Sunday, August 19, 2007

Un-Cooking: Garlic Scape & Toasted Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Dear readers, please forgive my seasonal inappropriateness.

I tend to eat, and blog, both seasonally and locally as much as possible. My recipes reflect that. This pesto is something I made back in early July. I wrote the recipe down and photographed it, but never did anything with it. Today I was daydreaming about this pesto's delightfully complex balance between the sharpness and sweetness of garlic scapes and the nutty comfort of toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), and I realized that though garlic scapes are now out of season (June is the prime month for them in most places), I should blog about this recipe before I lose the envelope it's scrawled on. So I hope you'll pardon me for blogging about a delicacy you can't obtain. See this as a reminder that as summer starts to wind down it is a perfect time to start thinking about what we look forward to cooking next spring and summer, or use it as an impetus for some of you gardeners to consider adding garlic to your garden plans for next year!

Since most of us don't follow recipes without tweaking them a bit, it occurred to me that this recipe could be a great jumping-off point for some experimentation. Maybe this recipe would be fabulous with lightly sauteed scallions and/or roasted garlic instead of scapes. Or with lightly steamed green beans pureed into the pesto with raw garlic. I can imagine that roasted leeks would also be a wonderful replacement for scapes. As far as I'm concerned, finding replacements for seasonal ingredients is always an enjoyable challenge.

"What is a garlic scape?" ask the uninitiated, whose ranks I was a member of until this year. Why, I couldn't explain it any better than this Washington Post blogger, who writes:
The "scape" in question is hardly a typo or a secret code word; it's shorthand for garlic scape, a part of the garlic plant that is a garlic lover's nirvana.

Here's the anatomy lesson: Garlic and its relatives in the allium family, (leeks, chives, onions) grows underground, where the bulb begins its journey, soft and onion-like. As the bulb gets harder (and more like the garlic we know), a shoot pokes its way through the ground. Chlorophyll-green like a scallion (maybe even greener), the shoot is long and thin and pliable enough to curl into gorgeous tendrils.

This stage of growth is the garlic scape, folks. If left unattended, the scape will harden and transform from green to the familiar opaque white/beige color of garlic peel. Keeping the shoot attached will also curtail further growth of the bulb. So, in an effort to allow the garlic to keep growing, the farmer is getting a two-fer with this edible delectable that cooks are just beginning to discover.

The pesto I created is vegan, and truly has no need for the usual parmesan cheese. It is sharp with garlicky flavor from the scapes, which mellows over time. The nutty flavor of the toasted pumpkin seeds is just wonderful. This pesto can last for quite a while in the refrigerator. Try it tossed with steam vegetables, or mixed with steamed rice or quinoa. Spread it on fish before or after grilling or broiling. Mix it with hot Tinkyada brown rice pasta. Thin it with some additional olive oil and/or water to create a more saucy pesto that can be poured over salad, meat, fish, vegetables or grain dishes. Use it as a sandwich spread, or eat it alone on a crusty piece of bread. This is a versatile alternative to classic basil pesto or my fresh and clean tasting summery Cilantro-Lemon Pesto. I hope that next spring/summer when you see garlic scapes at your local farmers' market you'll remember this recipe and look it up... Or create an even more exciting use for these beautiful green spirals curlicues, and share it with us!


[ Gluten-Free / Soy-Free / Dairy-Free / Vegan / Pareve ]

3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, untoasted and unsalted*
Approximately 15 garlic scapes, raw or lightly sauteed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp nutritional yeast
Optional: ground black pepper to taste

Place pumpkin seeds in a dry, preheated skillet over medium flame. Stirring frequently, allow pumpkin seeds to toast until they brown slightly. They will puff up and start popping. Remove immediately from heat and pour into a bowl. Allow them to come to room temperature.

Cut scapes into 2 inch pieces. Add all ingredients to food processor and blend until smooth. Add warm water or additional olive oil to thin, if desired.

*Note: If you use pumpkin seeds that you removed from a pumpkin yourself (as opposed to pre-packaged, dry pumpkin seeds), you may want to try this method for preparing them.

This recipe is part of the Weekend Herb Blogging event, hosted this coming week by Real Epicurean.


Sea said...

You're back! I've missed you! Good to see you again, even if it's with food that is tantalizingly out of reach. ;)


j said...

Garlic scapes are so incredibly lovely and versatile - mostly I love mine cut up into more manageable pieces, simply sauteed in a little olive oil with salt and pepper.....mmmm

ByTheBay said...

Sea - yes, I'm back! I didn't really go anywhere, just been overwhelmed with everything life is demanding of me these days. I know I am such a tease, posting this.

J - My favorite way to prepare them (other than this pesto), is cut into pieces, and sauteed with butter, salt and balsamic vinegar. They're incredible this way, as odd as it sounds to combine butter and vinegar.

Jess said...

Yum! Sounds like a great variation on pesto, one of my all time favorite toppings. Lucky for me, garlic scrapes are still seasonal where I live

Ginger Carter Miller, Ph.D. said...

Simply beautiful! Do you mind if I link your blog to my GF blog?


Ginger Carter Miller, Ph.D. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ByTheBay said...

Jess - Lucky lucky you! Where do you live?

Ginger: Of course! You are welcome to link to my blog and any of my posts. Welcome to the GF blogging world :)

Kalyn said...

It sounds very tasty. I made garlic scape pesto once, but didn't ever see any garlic scapes this year.

Karina Allrich said...

Oooh. This pesto does sound awfully yummy. I just made a vegan pesto this week with nutritional yeast - and was surprised at how good it was! I'll have to try a version of yours. All that garlic = tasty.


Freckled Face Mama said...

Yummy, yummy, yummy and more yummy! They are still selling local organic garlic snapes at my local co-op and local farmers' market so I have been fortunate to be able to make this splendid recipe. Wonderfully done!(Also you should know this was approved to be "worthy eathing" by a two year old-best compliment in the world, in my opinion.)

Catherine said...

hmmmm....i want those right now!

Anna said...

great idea to smother veggies in the pesto.
love the addition of toasted pepitas too.

Meredith S. said...

I'm so happy to see people using garlic scapes. I just discovered them this year with my CSA delivery. I had no idea what to do with them, so one day I just chopped them up and added them to a sauce for fish. Then I used them in beef stew and a stir fry. They are great. Haven't seen them around the market lately. I guess they are out of season now because all the garlic I see has hard brown stalks. Thanks for the great post!

Tina said...

This looks so delicious! :)
All the ingredients in it look great-- and good idea to make this with pumpkin seeds!
You don't by any chance know a good place to find nutritional yeast or pumpkin seeds, do you?
I've been looking around online for these so I can make GARLIC SCAPE & TOASTED PUMPKIN SEED PESTO also. :)

Really like your blog


ByTheBay said...

Tina: I'm not sure where you live but pumpkin seeds can be found at any grocery store in the US, you needn't order them online. Nutritional yeast is also available in health food aisles of many grocery stores and all healthfood stores. But here are links where you can buy them online if you prefer:

Pumpkin Seeds

(this company, Barry Farms, is great - They have good prices on many GF items)

The same company carries Nutritional Yeast,

but I actually use this brand, which I buy locally

Betty said...

This looks so delicious! :)
All the ingredients in it look great-- and good idea to make this with pumpkin seeds!
You don't by any chance know a good place to find pumpkin seeds, do you?
I've been looking around online for these so I can make this vegan pesto also. :)

Really like your blog


ByTheBay said...

Betty - See the link I left above to a site that sells pumpkin seeds and other ingredients.

NutsOnline: Please stop spamming my blog. Thanks.