Those curly tops from garlic are fantastic as a mild garlic flavoring, pesto or hummus.
This summer's weather has been very unpredictable. I'm disappointed in my prowess as a gardener as there are many battles to fight this year. Mother Nature always wins.
As you may or may not know, as farmer market vendors, we educate the public on seasonal eating, canning, gardening and using everything that gardens provide. My first large harvest after the lettuce and Chinese cabbage is garlic scapes. Seeing how people react to the bunches of curly stems at the market is fun.
If you are a garlic grower, you know that garlic must be planted in mid-October, sometime around or shortly after the 15th of the month. It's planted deep, watered in and mulched to protect it from the coming winter. Then, we let Mother Nature take her course.
In the spring, it begins to show itself under the mulch. Since garlic can tolerate light frost, it's time to uncover the bulbs. It's also time to add blood or bone meal for fertilization and water. Scapes will appear at the end of June.
It's best to clip them right away. Scapes are the seed pods, and we want all the garlic's energy to go towards the bulb hiding deep within the soil. By that, I mean when garlic grabs the earth, it's there for the duration.
Harvesting scapes does two things. It increases the size of the garlic, and you can use them instead of garlic in stir-fries, salads, loaves of bread, etc. Not only that, but one of my favorite things this time of year is garlic scape pesto. I eat it by the spoonful — no vampires in this household.
So, here is a recipe for Garlic Scape Pesto. Traditionally pesto is made with basil. I'm not too fond of the taste of basil, so this is a delight for sure. Use it as a dip for veggies or pita bread or toss it with hot pasta for a light evening meal.
Garlic Scape Pesto
• 8 garlic scapes (1/2 cup chopped)
• 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
• 1/2 cup walnuts (you can substitute sunflower seeds)
• 1 cup basil leaves
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more if desired
Once you have processed your pesto, here is how you make a pasta dish.
How to Use Pesto Sauce
When you combine pasta with a refined sauce like pesto, the best pasta to use is one with holes or twists and turns that will sop up more of the sauce. Choose penne, fusilli, bucatini, campanelli, cavatelli, ditalini, but don't count out straight pasta like fettuccine if that's all you have.
Cook 1 pound of pasta of choice in salted water. When pasta is al dente, remove from the heat and drain.
In a large bowl, combine 3/4 cup room-temperature pesto with 2/3 cup hot pasta water.
Add drained pasta to the bowl and toss to combine. Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss again and serve immediately.
Here's hoping you had a wonderful Fourth of July holiday. The Dog Days of summer are coming right up. Enjoy.
Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.