Posts tagged garlic scapes

Garden Update

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Just seeing the profusion of happy garlic scape curlicues makes me smile!

It’s been a busy spring with much to sidetrack my writing including a 10 day stay in the hospital (Takotsubo’s Cardiomyopathy, look it up, it’s sort of interesting).  I’ve recovered for the most part and am back to gardening with my husband’s help.

First the peas!  They bore early and heavily so the experiment was a success.  They are finishing up now as the weather is warming, but we enjoyed several nice stirfrys and some lovely pasta primaveras.  I don’t think I would have had anywhere near this success if I had waited until the weather settled because the inevitable heat of late spring always brings them to a screeching halt.

Next, garlic scapes.  They have reached the height of their exuberance so I snapped them off yesterday and made garlic scape pesto.  Susan W., if you see this, the scapes from the garlic you gave me last summer had double curls, similar to the heirloom variety called Unadilla Double Coil that I got from a farmer in Poughkeepsie, New York.  I wonder if they could be related.  Such a lovely fresh taste, I can’t wait to see how they are as keepers.

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This is a scape from Susan’s garlic!

Lastly, I think I have improved on my strategy to keep my eggplant safe from the dreaded flea beetles.  A few years ago I began covering them with a floating row cover until the flea beetles had completed their life cycle, mid July here, just as the plants are beginning to flower.  The problem with this was that I had to open the cover to water and check their progress.  I recently visited northern Vermont and brought my head net in anticipation of black flies.  In looking over the head net, I got the idea that the fine mesh would make a good substitute for the floating row cover.  An internet search turned up “Noseeum” mesh in 72″ widths, available by the yard.  It is a very promising substitute so far.

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Noseeum fabric mesh protecting my eggplant seedlings.

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Garlic Scape Pesto: “How To” Video

I’ve finally tried it, making a video that is.   Follow this link to view it.  In my maiden voyage I’ve made several “rookie errors,” one of which is forgetting the crucial matter of what kind of cheese to use (Pecorino Romano or Parmesan).  Another thing to remember is that this recipe is flexible, depending on the taste of the cook.  I notice now that I used 1/2 the volume of walnuts in the video, whereas in the link to my earlier post, I used 1/3.  To me this just shows how very flexible it is.  Many who viewed it from my Facebook page asked if I could show it being used, so I thought I’d post it here as well because I have previously done several posts about this terrific vegetable, being used both in its fresh form and as Pesto.  Pasta Primavera , Stir Fry with Chicken and Snow Peas  , and one about Garlic Scape Pesto itself, showing it used with rice and twice baked potatoes.  It’s also great mixed into salad dressing and tossed with pasta.

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More With Garlic Scapes: Stir Fry with Chicken and Snow Peas

Stir Fry of Chicken, Mushrooms and Vegetables (Note the fork.  I am inept with chopsticks)

Stir Fry of Chicken, Mushrooms and Vegetables (Note the fork. I am inept with chopsticks)

The garlic scapes are coming on strong now so I made a stir fry using them.  I used one boneless, skinless cubed chicken breast that I marinated for half and hour in Tamari sauce (soy sauce) as the protein and for vegetables, snow peas, garlic scapes, onion, asparagus and some sweet red bell pepper for color.  I added mushrooms using some of the Hen o’ the Woods that I collected last fall, sauteed and froze.  These are probably too many vegetables for a purist, but I must use what is fresh in the garden while it is at its peak and stir fry is unsurpassed for this.  The trick with stir fry is advance preparation.  Have everything sliced and arranged in order of how you plan to add it to your wok ahead of time.  Mix the final thickening sauce and have it ready in a side dish to add at the end.  Have any spices you wish to add (I added red pepper seeds) ready to go.  I used brown rice that takes 45 minutes to cook so I began that ahead of time and did the rest of my preparation while it was cooking.

Clockwise from upper left:  onions, mushrooms, snow peas and asparagus tips, red pepper pod (to break open for seeds), red bell pepper, asparagus stems; and center- garlic scapes.  Thickening sauce, chicken broth and soy sauce at the sides

Clockwise from upper left: onions, mushrooms, snow peas and asparagus tips, red pepper pod (to break open for seeds), red bell pepper, asparagus stems; and center- garlic scapes. Thickening sauce, chicken broth and soy sauce at the sides

1.  First drain any marinade and cook the chicken pieces in the wok, stir frying them in hot oil (I used safflower which is less likely to smoke with a few drops of sesame oil for flavor).  Remove and set aside.

2.  Add the vegtables, putting in the ones that take the longest to cook first.  For my combination, it went like this:

  • onions & mushrooms – stir fry about three minutes then add red pepper seeds and any other seasonings;
  • asparagus stems and garlic scapes – stir fry about 1 minute;
  • red pepper, snow peas and asparagus tips – stir fry one minute.

3.  Pour in about 1/2 C. of chicken broth, add back the chicken and cook about 1 to 2 minutes more, until the chicken heats back up.

4.  Add the final thickening sauce which is 1 Tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 C. chicken broth with a Tbsp. of soy sauce.  Stir until the sauce clears and thickens.  Serve over rice.

All Ready for the Rice

All Ready for the Rice

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Garlic Scapes and Pasta Primavera

Pigtail-like Garlic Scapes

Pigtail-like Garlic Scapes

Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera

Yesterday I saw that my garlic had started sending up its scapes, those whimsical pigtails that eventually open as the garlic flowers.  These need to be removed if you want to achieve the maximum sized garlic head but don’t throw them on the compost pile.  They have a delicate garlic flavor perfect for stir fries and Pasta Primavera.

Curliques of Flavor, all good to eat.

Curliques of Flavor, all good to eat.

Pasta Primavera is all about seasonality (Primavera=Italian for Spring).  I still have asparagus and my edible podded peas (Sugar Snaps) are just beginning, so with the garlic scapes, I had enough  for the dish.  I like to add sweet red peppers for extra color.  You can make fresh vegetable pasta dishes all summer long.  The vegetables available seem to marry naturally and the combinations are limitless.  For example you might choose yellow squash, zucchini and green beans for July and cauliflower, peppers and cherry tomatoes for August.  I begin with a base of mushrooms and onion which I saute in olive oil while the pasta water is heating.  When the mushrooms and onions are done, I add about 1/4 tsp. of red pepper seeds.  When the pasta water comes to a boil, add the cut up fresh vegetables saving the most delicate for last and scoop them out just as they begin to soften.  Timing depends on the vegetable, the sugar snap peas take only 30 seconds, the asparagus tips about a minute and the garlic scapes, red peppers and asparagus stems maybe 2 minutes.  Green vegetables will turn bright green when they reach the right point.  When they are done, set them aside.  They will continue cooking, so if you left them in the pasta water a little too long, they might be overcooked.  In this case you should put them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.  I like to use Capellini (Angel Hair) for this dish.

Vegetables, All Sliced and Ready

Vegetables, All Sliced and Ready

There are several options for sauces, the ingredients for which are added to the cooked mushroom/onion mixture and reduced to a sauce thickness.  Traditional is heavy cream    In midsummer when the tomatoes are burgeoning, a light fresh tomato sauce is nice but for these delicate spring vegetables I like to keep it light using chicken broth, white wine and a spoonful of the boiling pasta water.   Add the chosen sauce ingredients and reduce them while the pasta is cooking.  When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the sauce mixture, turning to coat well, then add the vegetables.  Let them cook together a minute or two so the pasta takes up some of the sauce.  Fresh herbs sprinkled over the top complete the dish.  Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.  You can add meat if you wish; cubed chicken, ham or prosciutto go well (I used chopped sandwich ham this time as I had no prosciutto).  These are added when you cook the mushrooms.  This dish is quick and easy.  It can be completed in little more than the time it takes to boil the pasta water.

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