Showing posts with label garlic scapes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label garlic scapes. Show all posts

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Great (E)Scape

by Sheila Connolly

A few weeks ago I bought a batch of garlic scapes at the farmers’ market in Northampton, where the vendor said they were the last of this year’s crop.

This past week I was in Vermont, which is north of Northampton, and was driving back by way of New Hampshire and stopped at an organic farm stand, and behold! More scapes!

Okay, by now you’re probably scratching your heads and saying, what is a garlic scape? It’s the stem and flower bud that emerges from the garlic head. Leave it alone on the plant and you’ll get garlic flowers, although your garlic heads will be smaller. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of them, much less seen them—I didn’t meet one until about ten years ago. Apparently they’ve been popular in Europe for a while, but took their time catching on here.

So, what to do with garlic scapes? They taste like garlic, no surprise, but a bit milder (your friends and loved ones will thank you!). You want young ones, because they tend to toughen up as they get older. I went hunting for recipes but found surprisingly few, and most are recent. But the one recipe most people suggest is Garlic-Scape Pesto.

Yes, they really do curl

Every recipe I found varied just a little, and this is a combination of them all. Don’t worry—pesto is very forgiving, so the precise proportions aren’t all that important. The result is a bit less garlicky than regular pesto, and will have a different texture. But it will taste good!

Garlic-Scape Pesto

1/4 lb coarsely chopped garlic scapes (trimmed of dried out or tough parts)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1-2 Tblsp freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice (one small lemon was enough)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Puree the scapes, olive oil, pine nuts and lemon juice in a food processor until nearly smooth (one vendor told me to make your scape pieces fairly small, say 1” long, because otherwise they can wrap themselves around the processor blade).

Stir in or pulse the cheese (don’t overblend).

Taste and add salt and pepper if you want. Note: it may taste salty on its own, but remember you’re spreading it over a lot of pasta.

Make your favorite pasta according to package instructions, then toss with the scape pesto and serve.

If you have extra, you can refrigerate or freeze it.

It’s a nice change from basil-based pesto (we eat plenty of that in this household!).

The next book in the Orchard Mysteries, A Gala Event, isn't coming out until October, but I figured you'd enjoy a cool snow scene in the middle of summer. And alpacas, which always make me laugh.

I'd be happy if you wanted to pre-order it at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Friday, July 12, 2013

What Do You Do with a Baby Kohlrabi?

by Sheila Connolly

It's hot.  As I write this, we're in the midst of our second heat wave of the summer, and there's more to come.  So of course my thoughts turn to a meal that involves NO COOKING.

And then I went to the farmers' market again.  They were out of nettles this week, but I stopped at one stand and found…baby kohlrabi. 

I don't know how many of you have ever prepared kohlrabi.  It's a member of the cabbage family, and the part you eat is really a swollen part of the stem, near the ground, about the size of a softball (at least when you find one in a store).  It comes in green and purple, although the interior is the same in each. It's sort of crunchy, and tastes kind of like a turnip—rather earthy.  It can also be tough, so it's best to cook the big ones, after peeling them.

But, the baby ones are so cute! I made the seller very happy when I actually recognized the ones she had, picked that morning.  They were adorable! (What is it about tiny vegetables that is so appealing?) I bought six of them, and then she sold me some mint and two bunches of baby carrots, all for $5, and we were both happy. (I think I may be getting an odd reputation at the farmers market.)

Now to make a no-cook meal with baby kohlrabi and baby carrots.  Luckily I had half a grilled chicken waiting in the fridge (there are only two of us at home, so if I buy a whole chicken, split it and grill it, we get two meals out of it), so I diced that up. 

Then I julienned those kohlrabi (I figured they were small enough to eat raw),

and sliced the carrots, and chopped some parsley. I still had those garlic scapes from last week's farmers market, so I diced up a couple of those too 

(watch out—even the little skinny ones are surprisingly garlicky, so use them sparingly unless you really, really like garlic). Heck, you can add whatever you like. Snow peas. Tiny green beans. Whatever you've got that's fresh. And you'll notice I mixed up the shapes, textures and colors in this—you want it to look pretty too.

Recipe? You want a recipe?  If you insist. This amount made a nice light dinner for two of us.

2 cups cooked chicken, diced
3 baby kohlrabi, peeled and julienned
1 bunch baby carrots, sliced
3-4 small garlic scapes (use only the smaller end—the thicker part can be tough)
Parsley, chopped


1 cup mayonnaise (I'm not going to insist you make your own)
1 tsp grated horseradish
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Just mix it all up and taste it.  If it lacks oomph, add some herbs and spices.  I threw in a dash of turmeric, because I thought the earthy flavor would go well with the kohlrabi. I also thought it came out a little thick, so I threw in a dash of vinaigrette to smooth it out.

When you're ready to eat, place your ingredients into a large bowl, then add the dressing and toss lightly to cover.  On plates or shallow bowls, lay out some lettuce (I used Boston lettuce because I like the shape of the leaves) and scoop the chicken salad over it.  Serve!

If you're really hungry, you can include some nice crusty bread on the side.  If it's too hot to be really hungry, you're all set!

It's supposed to go below ninety this week.  I hope.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fiddlehead Ferns

by Sheila Connolly

We seem to be on a vegetable streak here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. Whatever I was going to write about this week went flying out of my head when I spotted a package of fiddlehead ferns at my local market.

I bet a lot of you are now scratching your heads and saying, she's gone flipping crazy and is chewing on the foliage.  Not so, I assure you.

Fiddlehead ferns unfurl themselves in spring in New England, and they have an exceedingly short life (they keep unrolling until they become ferns, and then they aren't as edible unless you really are into foliage).  You have a window of about two weeks to find and enjoy them.

I first encountered them during an indulgent luncheon with my husband at the famed French restaurant Lutèce in New York, alas now closed (since 2004).  Then there was a long spell with no sightings, until they appeared as if by magic in our market one year and I seized upon them, and have kept my eye open for them ever since.

Since they are available for such a short time, there is a dearth of recipes available for them.  What is more peculiar is that among many of the online recipes, the authors drown their fiddleheads in overwhelming flavors, like horseradish or mustard.  Fiddleheads are shy and retiring little creatures, similar in flavor to asparagus, so what's the point?

A pound of fiddleheads, cleaned

The best solution is to prepare them simply.  First cut off any brown parts of the stem and remove any brown bits of leaf, then cook. There are a couple of options:

1.  Steaming:  In a steamer set over boiling water, steam a pound of fiddleheads for about five minutes, until they are just tender.  Drain off the water, add butter and salt, and enjoy, unadorned, as a side dish.

After steaming (don't overcook!)

2. Sauteing:  Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the fiddleheads, toss to coat with butter, then cover and cook gently until they are just tender. 

An alternative is to sauté finely chopped shallots in the butter first, then add the fern heads, or if you want something slightly stronger, minced garlic. You may also want to try a mild-flavored olive oil.

No matter how you prepare them, enjoy this fleeting flavor of spring!  Now, if I could just find someone who sells garlic scapes (the curly ends of hardneck garlic, which are usually cut off and thrown away) again…or ramps (another early spring vegetable, also called a wild leek, that has a mild onion-garlic flavor)…

Garlic scapes