Thursday, 24 June 2010

The Great Scape

No that's not a typo for the Steve McQueen film, the scape I refer to is the great garlic scape, which looks like a kind of curly spring onion

I posted about this last year, but make no apologies for repeating myself, as it seems garlic scapes are still much undervalued, and not appreciated for the delicious treat that they are. Some people have been known to cut them off and throw them away! (Throw up hands in horror)
If you grow hardneck garlic, variously known as porcelain, or rocambole garlic, it will produce, around this time of year, a curious curly central shoot, which is in fact the flowering stem of the plant. I know of no other allium either edible or ornamental that does this curly wurly thing, it seems to be only porcelain garlic. My variety is "Music" and I have grown it for several years, saving a few heads each year for replanting. We eat a lot of garlic, I believe the allium veggies are very beneficial for health if not social life, and this year I've bought hardly any garlic at all, using our own supplies until well into the spring, with a bit of a gap until the scapes come into season, and tide us over until garlic harvest proper in August.
You need to cut off the scape for the benefit of the plant, so that it can direct its energies into plumping up the bulbs rather than producing flowers and seed. So cut your scapes, take them into the kitchen and chop off the flower buds at the end, and make yourself some Garlic Scape Pesto. This is a loose recipe, and endlessly variable, but here's the general idea.

Garlic Scape Pesto
6-8 garlic scapes
two handfuls of walnuts
2-4oz/50-100gr parmesan or similar hard cheese
handful of flatleaf parsley or basil if you prefer
Salt and black pepper
a good half pint of extra virgin olive oil

Cut the end off the scapes and chop into 1inch pieces.
Chop the cheese into manageable (for the blender) cubes.
Put everything except the oil into the blender and blend until finely chopped, at which point add as much oil as you fancy, to make a thick paste. Keep it in the fridge in a jar, floating a little oil over the top to keep the air out. Use it for:

Spreading on toasted sourdough and topping with sliced tomato for bruschetta style nibbles.

Stir into cooked pasta for a quick tasty supper when you've had a long day in the garden and don't want to cook much.

Spread on chops, chicken thighs, and/or chunky veggies, and slam in the aga to be cooking whilst you shower away the vestiges of the day's gardening, emerging Stepford fragrant, twenty minutes later to serve dinner.
I can hear someone laughing...


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