June is the time of year when we see the cool weather greens wilt under the sun and the summer cook-out foods begin to emerge: early tomatoes and squash, basil, cabbage, and the first tastes of garlic.
Immature varieties of garlic are sometimes marketed as green garlic or garlic scallions. The flower stalks of hardneck varieties, known as garlic scapes, are a firm and flavorful addition that can be grilled, stir-fried, sauted, pickled,or pureed into hummus or pesto (recipe below).
Give your traditional greenbean casserole a garlicky kick by substituting half or all the green beans with garlic scapes.
In addition to the flavor bonus, garlic also provides vitamin C, potassium, phosphorous, selenium, several amino acids and a variety of sulfur compounds, the last being credited with garlic’s antiseptic qualities.
Other ascribed health benefits of garlic include blood pressure and overall cholesterol reduction; antifungal and antibiotic effects; anticoagulant properties to thin blood and reduce the risk of blood clots and strokes; and antioxidant effects that help protect cells from cancer.
Garlic scape pesto
This recipe is exceptionally flexible based on taste preferences and what’s in your garden. Use it for pasta, pizza, dip, sandwich spread or drizzle over meat or vegetables. Find your favorite combination!
Ingredients (these are all approximate!)
• 1 cup garlic scapes, both ends removed and chopped into lengths
• 1/2 cup fresh, washed basil leaves and/or spinach and/or arugula
• 1/4 cup fresh, washed parsley, mint, or other favorite herb
• 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
• 2 to 3 Tbsp toasted pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, cashews, or other favorite nut/seed
• Juice from half a lemon
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• At least 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Put all ingredients except the oil in the bowl of a food processor.
2. Process, adding the oil a bit at a time, until desired consistency. Taste and adjust the salt and cheese accordingly.
3. Use right away or store in an airtight container in the fridge – it should keep for about two weeks. The top may turn a darker color due to air exposure, but just give it a stir. You can also freeze any extra pesto in an ice cube tray and then transfer to a freezer bag for much longer-term storage.
Until next time, eat well!