Last year we started to despair that all of the garlic in our local grocery stores was imported from overseas, which seems outrageous since garlic grows so beautifully here in southern
Today we harvested the first fruits of our garlic crop: the scapes. A garlic scape is the flower stalk of the garlic plant. As the flower stalk grows, its stem coils, making it very easy to distinguish from the rest of the plant. A farmer we’d spoken to said that removing the scape encourages a bigger bulb below ground. This necessary harvest is a delicious early harbinger of the garlic crop to come. We’d noticed the appearance of the developing flower stalks a couple of weeks ago, and today they seemed at the perfect degree of curliness to be harvested. As I snipped the pale green stems, I discovered that the cut scapes can be conveniently worn as bracelets--allowing me to keep both hands free. The smell of the freshly cut garlic scapes is delicious, like garlic, only milder, and with an underlying bright fresh green scent. The scapes I’ve bought from farmer’s markets before have been fairly tough, but these freshly harvested ones are crisp, tender, and easily bitten.
Today for lunch, we had garlic scape pesto over linguine, a recipe which a quick Internet search reveals in many variations. Essentially, garlic scape pesto is one in which the scapes take on the dual role of the traditional basil and garlic.
Our Garlic Scape Pesto recipe included:
- Garlic Scapes (about 40 with the tougher flower end removed)
- Olive oil (several tablespoons)
- Parmagiano reggiano (a generous grating—maybe ½ cup)
- Pine nuts (about a ½ cup)
- Salt to taste (less than a teaspoon)
- Lemon juice (of half a lemon)
I made the pesto, not in the food processor, which I was too lazy to haul out of the cupboard, but in our new two-speed Osterizer blender (which we bought to replace the Kitchen Aid after I broke the blender jug. We kept the base of the Kitchen Aid and will replace the glass part if we come across one, but we are delighted with the handsome new Osterizer so far).
Our perfect, pungent lunch
The pesto was beautiful: bright pale green, and very, very pungent. The pesto had a fresh green taste with a strong undertone of garlic and quite a bit of heat after a few bites. The garlic taste is not nearly as intense as raw garlic, but unless you are a true garlic lover, this pesto won’t delight you. We we’re delighted. This pesto was wonderful on pasta, but tonight we might try it on a wild salmon fillet, which we plan to barbecue if the rain stays away. The garlic scape harvest will definitely be an anticipated yearly event for us (provided we remember to plant our garlic in the fall).