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garlic scapes in oil, a triptych

(post, Nikki Gardner)

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Tender garlic scapes tossed with baby greens, floated into soup, or ground as pesto are a garlic lover's fantasy. I prefer mine paired with olive oil: pesto, vinaigrette, and flavored oil.

Garlic scapes are the curlicued flower stems that shoot up from garlic's parchment wrapped bulb. They belong to the bulb sprouting allium family, along with chives, leeks, and onions.

Scapes are airy like bright colored balloons rootless in a whisper blue sky. Mild. Green. Distant. They float, wander, and return. A round, quiet heat.

My first dinner with garlic scapes was memorable: fusilli pasta tossed with scape pesto and topped with garlic oil sauteed zucchini half-moons and cherry tomatoes. The green stems left a subtle fragrant impression. When paired with oil, I may even prefer them to their spicier papered roots. Let's see what you think...

Garlic Scape Pesto
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Garlic Scape and Almond Pesto

Yield about 1 cup

1 cup (or 8 to 10) garlic scapes (finely chopped and top flowery part removed)
1/4 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil (or more)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or pecorino Romano
sea salt

Combine the chopped garlic scapes with a pinch of salt, the nuts, and about half the oil in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth; scrape down the sides if necessary and add the remaining oil gradually.

Add the lemon juice. Add more oil or water for a thinner pesto. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Stir in the Parmesan by hand immediately before serving.

Pairs well with pasta, toasts, eggs, tarts, and more.

Garlic Scape Vinaigrette
adapted from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison

1 garlic scape
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mirin
7 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

Chop the garlic scape. Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Pairs well with fresh picked lettuce greens.

Garlic Scape Oil
adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

Yield 1/2 cup

2 garlic scapes (chopped)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch sea salt

Combine garlic scapes, olive oil, and salt in a saucepan over low heat. Cook until the oil sizzles, then continue to cook several more minutes until the oil is garlicky and fragrant.

Allow the oil to cool, then strain into a clean jar or bottle. Refrigerate, use within 1-2 months.

Pairs well with torn baguette pieces and fresh grated Parmesan as well as drizzled on soups and sandwiches.