Life Scapes II
Here's Life Scapes II. Life Scapes I is in a separate post, either before or after this one.
Life Scapes II is altogether different. Light, breezey, airy. No choking up. Maybe they'll be a Life Scapes III too. Who knows?
I've decided that life just doesn’t get any better than this.
I touted the grandness of ramps in my last post, right? How I wanted to be the Ramps Queen?
Well, the end to ramp season arrived. (Their season is far too short for me.) As I ate the last of my ramps, I savored every last tasty bitey-bite. It will be next year before ramps come back. But, don’t you worry. I’ll be wearing my crown all year long.
But before I had time to even contemplate the end of ramp season, what did I notice? Before my breath could recover from the "ramp breath" of recent weeks, what did I find? Right in my garlic patch?
If you’ve been reading my blog for a few years, then it comes as no surprise to you how excited I was to find the scapes shooting up out of my garlic plants. I watch in hopeful anticipation for weeks, looking for the start of a curl in the center stem of my hard-necked garlic plants. When the curly-que is complete, the scape is ready to snap off and eat!
Scapes are the reason that I will never be without a garlic patch. This year, my garlic patch is pretty pitiful. I had such a small sunny spot that I wound up planting garlic bulbs about an inch from each other.
And I put it right beside the driveway. I planted several different varieties this year, including my favorite: MaryJane Garlic.
Keep your eye on this link and order it as soon as MaryJane Garlic becomes available. This is the best garlic in the whole, entire universe. For real. The demand for this special garlic far exceeds the supply. Only the vigilant winds up with some MaryJane Garlic seed each year.
Back to my garlic patch. In spite of the rather adverse conditions, the garlic is doing well. I haven’t dug one up to see what’s going on under the ground, but over the ground, things are looking good.
Each year, as soon as I can, I start snapping off the scapes.
Scapes are so tasty. You can do with them what you’d use garlic or scallions for. They are a great addition in pasta or sautéed with fresh vegetables. Try them chopped and sautéed in olive oil for a dipping sauce with hot fresh bread. Use them in salad dressings and finely chopped in salads. Scapes are a wonderful topping for soups and stews. I’ve even roasted them. But, my all time favorite is Garlic Scapes Pesto.
Most people describe the scapes as mildly garlicky without the bite. I find them to be stronger than that. Believe me, you’ll know you are eating garlic and believe me, you’ll know it for a while. And so will the folks around you. But I love garlic. So in the scapes recipe I use, I always add more scapes than it calls for in order to boost the garlic flavor.
Scapes have become more and more available at local farmers markets. When I first read about them in MaryJane’s Ideabook*Cookbook*Lifebook, I had never heard of them before. And I couldn’t find any at the farmers markets around here. You see, the scapes were usually tossed out by the growers. They are clipped off and thrown in the compost heap. They are cut off the growing garlic plants so that the plant can concentrate all its energy into the development of the garlic bulb.
Enter the creativity of MaryJane Butters. She basically invented the concept of using the scapes of the garlic, rather than tossing them out. MaryJane is the true queen of garlic scapes. Oh, she does indeed deserve a crown!
My favorite thing to do with the scapes of the garlic is pesto. Then I add it to pasta. A little lemon zest and parmesan cheese on top and delish!
If you have plenty of scapes, make the pesto and either spoon it into ice cube trays or scoop it out onto a baking tray with a melon-baller.
Then freeze for an hour or two. Once the scapes cubes or balls are good and frozen, pop them into a freezer ziplock bag.
As you want some garlic pesto, head to the freezer, and take out one of those cubes or balls.
One piece of equipment is indispensible in making this pesto. I can't believe I am saying that this year because I’ve been making the pesto for several years without this piece of equipment. But now that I’ve used it; well, I hereby declare it....well, I hate to say indispensible...but, it sure did make the job go quickly and I sure won’t make pesto without it ever again.
It’s a food processor.
I have never had nor used a food processor. I’m a blender gal. If a recipe says to "process," I get out my old Veggie-Mix and give it a good twirl in the blender. That's exactly what I've done in previous years of making the pesto.
But there has always been this thing in our small appliance closet. When my husband and I married, he brought this (in a box) into our new kitchen.
I didn’t know how to use it, put it together, clean it, or even pronounce the name of it.
So I have avoided it. For 18 years.
That’s big time avoidance.
All those blades. All those parts. All those attachments. Everything sharp and complicated. Nope, not for me.
I shred my cabbage by hand. I grate my cheese with a grater. I slice my potatoes with a knife.
Hubby always volunteers to get the thing out the box in order to perform whatever chore I’m working on with it.
“No thanks,” I reply, “I’m good. I’ll stick with the old-fashioned way.”
And while I haven’t used it, I have cleaned it for my hubby. And let me tell you: it’s a big, fat pain to clean.
But then something happened yesterday.
I’m chopping the garlic scapes in little pieces getting ready to make my first batch of Garlic Scapes Pesto for the year. Hubby comes in the kitchen and volunteers his food processing services and equipment once again.
What was it about that particular day that made my mouth say, “Okay” when he asked? What was it that made say, “That would be awesome, thank you very much.”?
I’ll tell you what it was.
I fell down the steps the other day and sprained my ankle, so I’m hobbling along. And then, right before I started on the scapes, I apparently had salt on my finger and I rubbed it IN my eye. Holy-moly, but salt in the eye burns. Once the burning stopped, I realized that I had scratched my eye with the salt and it continues to water and hurt even now. So, I was a hobbling, teary mess when Hubby came in and volunteered his "processor" and his "processing."
So, yes, this time I’ll take some help, thank you very much. Your food processing services? Yes, that would be lovely.
I’m here to tell you: I’m sold. Making the Garlic Scapes Pesto was a breeze with a processor.
And clean-up was a breeze too, because Hubby did it.
I'm reformed. I'm a convert. I'm a food processor myself now. Who would have thunk it?
But, you don't need one to do the pesto. Really. It's not indispensible. It's just handy. And easy. And wonderful. And awesome. And incredible. But no. Not indispensible.
But one thing is. You definitely need garlic scapes. So. If you don’t have garlic in your garden or growing beside your driveway, do two things, one now and one later.
The now one: Look for scapes at your local farmers market.
The later one: Plant hard-necked garlic in your garden or somewhere in your yard this fall.
Here is the recipe I use for Garlic Scapes Pesto.
1 ¼ cup garlic scapes (cut into ¼” slices*)
1/3 cup walnuts
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup to ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper
Process garlic scapes and walnuts in a food processor until well combined. Or blend in a blender. Or chop in a chopper. (If you process or blend, don’t over do it. Leave little tiny pieces of the garlic scapes.)
Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and process only until well distributed.
Remove from processor and add cheese, salt and pepper.
*Now, know that there is an ongoing debate about whether to discard or include the flowery bulge you find on the scapes in recipes. Some say it is bitter and unpleasant. I’ve done both. I say, include it. I couldn’t tell any different whatsoever. And the more scapes the better! If you don't include them in the pesto though, use them for decorations. They look great on top of whatever you make with the scapes.
Oh my, oh my!!
Have fresh bread or crackers ready to go!
Yep, life just doesn’t get any better than this.
Who's got "the original celebrated curiously strong mints"? Pass those Altoids my way, would ya?
Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!
Lots of love, The City Farmgirl, Rebekah