Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Garlic Scape Pesto Pasta

Hello Readers, allow me to introduce you to Garlic Scape. Have you met before? Garlic Scape just entered my life and I have a feeling it’s going to be a long-term relationship.


 Garlic scapes are the curly shoots that spring from the tops of garlic plants. Garlic is a bulb, so the “scape” is the plant that shoots out of that bulb. According to Dorrie Greenspan, “They're brilliantly green, can be thick or thin, curved or corkscrewed, and, depending on how they're cut, just long or very long. They've got a mild garlic fragrance and a mellow garlic flavor. Smell the cut end or snap one and the scent will be a cross between garlic and summer grass. It's got a freshness that garlic loses as it develops.”

LOTR-Emily and I bought into a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this summer. CSA's are quite the trendy locovore thing. How it works: We paid in advance, so every week a local farm delivers a bag, or “share,” of fresh produce to Emily’s office. The fun part is, you never know what you’re going to get!

Some veggies are obvious – Swiss chard, zucchini, lettuce. But others are completely unfamiliar. For example, in my second bag of leafy greens I pulled out something that looks like a chive or green onion…but isn’t. Time to don my detective hat! I went to the farmer’s market and snooped around, eyeing the local veggies. And lo and behold, a sign labeling my long U.G.V. (unidentified green vegetable): “garlic scape.”

And now for the more important introduction: Garlic Scape, meet Basil. Oh, and Basil brought her friends Parmesan and Walnut. You guys are going to be bffs. I promise. 

Because the food blogger world seems to agree that the epitome of garlic scape cooking is to make pesto.

Garlic Scape Walnut Pesto
(Makes about 1 cup pesto)
3 tablespoons walnut pieces
1 cup garlic scapes, washed and roughly chopped
1 cup basil leaves (tightly packed)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus additional if necessary)
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  1. Toast the walnut pieces: in a small, dry skillet, add the walnut pieces and toast over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant. Cool.
  2. In the bowl of the food processor, combine the cooled walnut pieces, the garlic scapes, the basil, a pinch of salt, a grinding of black pepper, and the olive oil. Pulse until a rough paste forms. Add additional olive oil if the mixture is too dense.
  3. Scrape the mixture into a bowl. Stir in the parmesan. Taste and correct for salt.

This pesto is pleasantly mild, subtle enough to spread on toast, or to toss with pasta. Here’s what I did:

Mollie’s Garlic Scape Pesto Pasta Veggie Bowl
(makes 2 servings…dinner and lunch the next day!)
1 medium-sized shallot, chopped
1 yellow squash, sliced
Splash olive oil
2 servings whole wheat spaghetti
2-3 cups greens (any kind works, whatever you have)
Salt and pepper
1 cup water or chicken broth
3 Trader Joe's Cooked and Frozen Turkey Meatballs, diced (optional)
1/2 cup pesto
  1. Start boiling water for your pasta.
  2. Heat a medium-sized skillet. Add a splash of olive oil and swirl to coat the pan.
  3. Spread the squash slices in the pan and don’t move them. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until they begin to brown.
  4. Flip the squash and equally brown the other side.
  5. Remove from pan and set aside.
  6. If your water is boiling, add the spaghetti and cook according to box instructions for al dente.
  7. In the same pan you used for the squash, add another splash of olive oil and the shallot. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium heat.
  8. Add your greens, salt and pepper, and toss with the shallots.

  9. Add 1 cup water or broth and simmer until greens are tender. You may need to add more liquid if they’re particularly tough greens.
  10. Once they’re cooked, add the pesto, squash, meatballs, and drained spaghetti. Toss them all together and enjoy!

(You’ll notice I mixed fresh lettuce into my bowl o’pasta. It’s a thing I do called hot salad…I’ll tell you about it sometime.)