Our Family

Our Family

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Garlic Farm


Last Saturday, our family went to The Garlic Farm.  Mat's friend at work told us about this farm which is only about 30 minutes from our house, and after hearing that they would be having a pesto making demonstration, we thought it would be fun for the family.

There are two weekends a year where you can cut garlic scapes off of a garlic plant.  Last weekend and this coming weekend happen to be those two weekends - yay for us!

What are garlic scapes?  (fyi I'm copying this directly from the Garlic Farm's website which I linked above)
Garlic scapes, or flower stalks, emerge from hard-necked varieties of garlic--normally in June in Connecticut. The stalks wind up as they grow and form eccentric curlicues. Snipping off the scapes before the flowerheads mature allows the plant to direct more energy into the developing garlic bulb, and so we snip them off for a garlic scape harvest in mid-June.

When the garlic scapes are still in full curl, they are tender and succulent. They have a garlicky taste that is milder than the eventual garlic cloves, with the tender snap of just-picked asparagus. In fact, we often say that you can prepare garlic scapes pretty much any way you'd use asparagus--and more.

close-up photo of curling scape taken June 5, 2013

The lady made the most divine pesto from these little weedy looking things, and IT WAS DIVINE!  We knew we had to get some when even the kids ate it up (although it is a little spicy like garlic when you eat it fresh).  It loses it's spice each day after it's made.  Heck, you can even eat the thing raw (which we did, and the kids promptly drank gulps of water 'cause that stuff is HOT)!

Garlic Scape Pesto
1 cup (or less) freshly grated Parmesan cheese or other sharp Italian cheese (WE USED ASIAGO CHEESE)
1–2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice, adjusted to taste (WE USED LIME JUICE)
1/4 pound roughly chopped scapes
1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste (don't salt it until after you try eating it with a saltine cracker, of course, salt side down)
You can add nuts (preferably walnuts, but we did not add nuts b/c it was perfect without them)

Puree scapes, olive oil, and juice in a blender or food processor until nearly smooth. (You can make a smooth paste if you prefer, but most people like a little texture in the pesto.) Gently stir in the cheese or gingerly pulse the cheese into the mixture; take it easy as you mix in the cheese to avoid making the pesto gummy by overblending. Taste and then adjust juice and salt to taste.

Store in the refrigerator to use within two or three days; freeze for longer storage. Scape pesto freezes well, and it holds its appealing green color when frozen even better than the traditional basil pesto.

We also tried them just by grilling the entire scape like you would grill asparagus, and that was very yummy.  Even my children wolfed down the grilled scapes.  They were like long green beans, but better!

Here is a picture of my pesto (actually Mat made it) before I froze it:
And here is a picture of the scape pesto chicken that I made:
It's not the best picture, but I'll just share the simple recipe (b/c I only do simple around here).  You can either bake the chicken of put it in the crock pot just like this:
two chicken breasts
covered in dry ranch seasoning
and smothered in garlic scape pesto (or any kind of pesto)

And it wouldn't be a good southern recipe without the collards - made with bacon, of course!

I hope you all get the opportunity to taste or better yet make garlic scape pesto sometime.  It has certainly become my favorite food.  I like it best as a dip with crackers, but it's good every way I've tried it so far.

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