Monday, June 14, 2010

Garlic Scape Pesto

Scapes are the flower stalks of the growing garlic bulbs and they are tasty in many dishes as well as good for pickling and sauces. To harvest them, tug or snap them as soon as they appear, while they are still small and tender. Most people cut off the flower bud and use the stalk. Here is an easy recipe for some pesto:

1 lb scapes: bud removed and stalks chopped
1-2 cups olive oil (adjust as needed)
basil, if available
1 1/2 c fresh grated parm or asiago cheese
1 cup almonds or pine nuts

Process in food processor and store either with a thin layer of oil on top or plastic wrap pressed against surface.

The photos show garlic growing at Garden Dreams in Wilkinsburg, PA, where I work, as well as the scapes after they were cut and the pesto making. I am also trying some lacto-fermented pickles with some of the scapes and if those work out okay I will definitely post the recipe. I am growing garlic for the first time in my own garden this fall and have gathered some information on growing below (mostly from Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening)...

Growing Garlic:

Garlic is usually planted in the fall but can also be planted in the spring. Garlic from the grocery store will grow but may carry disease or be poorly adapted to where you live. You can order garlic from seed supply companies or sometimes buy it at nurseries that carry onion sets or seed potatoes. Most grocery store garlic is softneck (it doesn't flower so no scapes to eat!) and is good for braiding. Hard neck garlic produces a flowerhead. Plant individual cloves (pieces from a broken up bulb) 1" - 4" deep (less in heavy clay soil which is definitely Pittsburgh soil). Space 7" apart for block planting or 4" x 12" in rows. Most cultivars need at least a month of cool weather (soil below 50 degrees) to produce a good size bulb. Harvest garlic when leaves begin to brown but before all foliage has died back (july-ish for fall planted garlic). Dig up carefully and hang or place on slatted shelves or sceens to dry.