Monday, June 27, 2011

The Greatest Scape

fresh garlic scape garlic bulb, dried

The garlic scape is a part of the garlic plant. (Photo credits: Scape, Wikimedia Commons. Dried garlic bulb, lowjumpingfrog on Flickr)

Perhaps you’ve seen these at the farmer’s market or in your farm share recently: a green, curling shoot with a segment in the middle and a tapering end. What is it, and what do you do with it?

The scape of the garlic plant is a flowering shoot the plant sends up. The garlic scape is eaten like green onions or scallions, or like chives. The garlic plant is stimulated by this trimming, and later in the season, the fresh garlic bulbs are harvested from the ground.

If you’re eating with the seasons, at this time of year, garlic scapes can be substituted for bulb garlic in many recipes. Their mild flavor and crispness suit them to raw dishes, such as tuna salad, gazpacho, vinaigrette, and pico de gallo; they are also good chopped into stir fries and pan-roasted vegetables. When making a substitution of scapes for bulb garlic in a recipe, use about three times the volume of garlic scapes as is called for in the recipe.

Garlic scape pesto allows you to preserve their ephemeral taste for year-round use. Process scapes in a food processor with a small amount of olive oil and salt: some recipes also call for almonds or pine nuts and a hard grating cheese, though these are optional. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. After the cubes have frozen, crack them into a large, labeled ziplock bag and store them in the freezer. Whenever you want some mild garlic in a stir fry, a quiche, soup, or pasta sauce, pull out a cube or two. Melt one right in the pan, then sauté vegetables in the pesto, and eat them over rice or use them in another dish, like a stuffed omelette or vegetable lasagna. For an exciting twist on a standard, sauté rice or other grains in the pesto before adding water and cooking as usual.
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