Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Daily Special – Garlic Scape Pesto

Because I  get my produce via a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture group), I eat what is grown locally.  This means I have no choice but to dine “in season.”  If it doesn’t grow where I live at the moment, I generally don’t end up eating it.  Well, almost.  My preserving projects are an exception, and, wouldn’t you know it, today happens to be strawberry jam making day.*  It’s jam day only if I stop eating these berries, that is.  Hull one, eat one, hull one – Crikey, this one is way too big - down the gullet it goes…  And so on.

In any case, it stands to reason that a year might pass since the last time I made baby artichokes - sliced thinly, tossed in lemon juice and slowly cooked in an amount of butter only the holder of a French passport would dare use (thankfully I have dual citizenship), until they just start to turn golden on the edges.  I think sometimes I would toss them with pasta, other times sprinkle on a bit of Parmesan Reggiano, run them under the broiler, serve them with little toasts and call them bruschetta.   I’m not exactly sure.  A lot happens in a year, you know?   Soooo, when the baby artichokes came around this spring, and my friend asked me, “How did we make those artichokes last year?  They were soooo amazing,” I said something along the lines of “uhhhhh….” 

I gotta start writing this stuff down.**

My annual arrival in Utah almost always coincides with that of garlic scapes. This is the only place I’ve seen garlic scapes, come to think of it.  Scapes are simply the green shoots that mark the place where a garlic bulb is forming under the ground.  The farmer wacks off the shoot to encourage the bulb, and, somewhere along the line, decided we should eat them.  It was a good idea.

Garlic Scapes 001
I think I used about half this many to make a mini-food processor sized batch.

You’ve got to slice the garlic scapes up before putting them in the food processor. (So much for saving me the task of washing a knife and cutting board, my frustrating little friend, baby Cuisinart).  Whirl them with some olive oil and grated parmesan (another task I do separately, although I guess you could grate it in the food processor first.  I, personally, will do no such thing with stuff as expensive as Parm Regg).  If you find yourself needing more liquid to make it all go round and round, but the pesto is verging on too oily, add a bit of water.  (This is one of the few recipes where I’m willing to do that.)  A judicious splash of lemon juice would work, too. This spring I didn’t use any sort of nut in the pesto, pine or otherwise, and I don’t think I did last year either.  You certainly could.  But I like it with all its fiery garlicky simplicity.  When you’re done, you’ll end up with something approximating guacamole colored mashed potatoes. 

Although its original destination was pasta (for this purpose, you’ll want to thin it ever so slightly with some of the starchy pasta cooking water), I find myself as often as not, eating it on crackers. Topped with a sundried tomato if I’m feeling fancy.  Or an olive.  It’s a great sandwich spread too.  Uses and variations are limitless.

* That, my friends, is a bald faced lie.  I should say "preserves," since I am using whole fruit.  But I like the word "jam" better.
** You do see the irony here, right?

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