Aren’t they beautiful? I love their whimsical curves and loops. Garlic scapes are the young flower stalks that are trimmed off of growing garlic buds, and their flavor lies somewhere between garlic and scallions. Less acidic than scallions, and sweeter, milder, and much more succulent than garlic, the garlic scape still has a gentle kick to it. There’s something about their sweet spicy flavor that I just can’t get enough of, and I’m just devastated that their season is almost over. Get them while you can my friends! Your local greenmarket should have some (and I know that the Park Slope Food Coop has tons of them right now). Now, how do you use them? Well, I’ve been throwing my garlic scapes in the food processor with all sorts of things to make various pestos and different kinds of hummus, but Melissa Clark also has some good ideas here. It’s been too hot to do much stove-top cooking here, so salads of varying composition have become my daily fare. A garlic scape and basil pesto I made did double duty this week first as a dressing to a couple of said salads. This one was particularly good:
Baby arugula, cold cooked barely, cold boiled beets, and sliced prosciutto topped with a poached egg and garlic scape pesto. The beets and the barley I had already cooked a big batch of each and they were sitting in the fridge waiting, so the only thing I had to cook for this dinner was the egg, which really hardly counts as cooking. I highly recommend cooking some barley (which you cook just like rice) and keeping it in the fridge- it’s amusingly boingy to bite into and has a rich nutty flavor that works well in all sorts of cold salads and also as a cereal for breakfast (serve with milk and add a bit of nutmeg and sweetener). I made my garlic scape pesto with fresh pesto and olive oil and salt, nothing extra, but if you want to experiment with adding nuts and/or cheese that would work too. With thanks to my roomie Peter, I’m hooked on Fairway’s D.O.P Gata- Hurdes olive oil, which is dark green and thickly pungent in the most wonderfully olively way. If you can get your hands on some of this oil, it makes the best pestos and salad dressings ever (and when you can’t use vinegar because you’re on a certain kind of diet, it’s a life-saver).
There’s really no recipe for the pesto, just fill the food processor with a bunch of fresh basil leaves, a few garlic scapes (remove their flower buds), a generous pinch of salt, and as little or as much oil as you need to get it to your desired consistency (start with less, you can always add more). For use as a salad dressing, go for a runnier consistency. Homemade pesto can be stored in an airtight container for up to two days in the fridge, or frozen for longer.