Farewell, Spring. Hello, Garlic Scapes!

Words and photos by Lia Pietrolungo

As the last breeze of June tumbles into what is sure to be a sweltering July, I walked along the Highland Square farmer’s market, now held at Will Christy Park, with a Popsmith Rhubarb Orange Blossom popsicle in one hand and an eager, empty basket in another.

After no longer than two minutes of perusing, my eye drifted towards bunches of green curls bound together by rubber bands.

 

Behold, one of spring’s many late-season joys: the garlic scape. At nearly every stand, baskets upon baskets generously runneth over with  vibrant green tendrils, inviting market-goers to marvel at their vibrancy and shape.

Garlic scapes grow from the bulbs of garlic plants and are harvested before the bulb. With a soft garlic taste, they are a perfect stand in for their bulbous counterpart.

When harvested early in the season, the scapes are mild and tender enough to munch on raw. If left to mature, they will develop a heat that can be mellowed out by a quick dip in boiling water followed by an ice bath. Be sure to give your scapes a nibble before tossing them in your dish!

While the garlic scape boasts a variety of delicious uses, such as pickling, roasting, and grilling, I chose to keep it simple. This kicky twist on my easy peasy go-to pesto recipe leaves ample room for variation in cheese, nuts, and binding agents. While I’m a sucker for pine nuts and parmesan, the cashews and Ohio Farm Direct grassfed mozzarella cheese used in these recipes lend a creamy texture that’s divinely spreadable. Bursts of light citrus and sweet basil cut through the heat of the scapes, lending balance and complexity to the garlicky notes.

I went ahead and paired this wildly flavorful pesto with spiralized zucchini from Log Cabin Farm and freshly-picked grape tomatoes, but it would lend itself beautifully to grilled chicken, sandwiches, or smattered on a cracker with caprese fixings.

Give this light, dreamy pesto a whirl this weekend, and say hello to the friendly folks at Log Cabin Farm and Ohio Farm Direct for me!

For a spicier pesto, try the recipe below:

 

10-12 garlic scapes (blanching optional)

1 packed cup fresh basil leaves

¼ cup pulverized cashews (unsalted)

6 cubes of Ohio Farm Direct grassfed mozzarella cheese

Zest of one lemon

Juice of ½ lemon

½ cup olive oil

¼ tsp salt

 

If you want to keep it mellow with a subtle bite, give my slightly-altered go-to a shot:

 

6 garlic scapes (blanching optional)

3 packed cups fresh basil leaves

¼ cup pulverized cashews (unsalted)

¾ cups freshly-grated parmesan cheese (or cubes of Ohio Farm Direct grassfed mozzarella cheese)

Zest of one lemon

Juice of  ½ lemon

½ cup olive oil

¼ tsp salt

 

Optional:

Fresh parsley (to taste)

¼ cup melted butter

Few cracks of black pepper

 

Chop off the bottom bits of the scapes. If blanching, cut scapes in half and place in salted boiling water. Swirl ‘em around for 30 seconds, then transfer to a colander and rinse well with cold water.

Blend together the scapes, basil, cashews, and cheese in a blender or food processor fitted with the steel blade.

Add the lemon zest and juice, blend once again.

Pour in the olive oil, ¼ cup at a time, and blend until desired consistency is reached.

Store in an airtight container with extra olive oil drizzled on top to keep your pesto fresh. Enjoy!

Garlic scapes are also great as a chopped up addition to hummus and stir fry, or in compound butter. Add three chopped scapes to softened butter. Blend in your prefered amount of lemon zest, a splash of fresh lemon juice, and a dash of salt. Transfer the butter to an airtight container and store in the fridge. The Highland Square Farmer’s market is held on Thursdays, from 4 – 7 p.m. until September 28th in Will Christy Park at 1175 West Exchange Street, Akron, OH 44302. You can catch the Howe Meadow Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 9 a.m. – noon until October 28th at 4040 Riverview Road, Peninsula, OH, 44264.

Meet the Farmers

Log Cabin Farm:

Run by the Yoder family — William, Elise, and their seven children — Log Cabin Farm is a fourth generation farm in Wayne County. With a total of 87 acres, the Yoder family harvests vegetables, hay, and grains with ample acres left over for pastureland and woods. Using soils rich in nutrients, the Yoder’s bounty is grown in clay-loam (sand, silt and clay) with some black muck. From their soil to their means of pest and weed control, this OEFFA Certified farm follows purely organic practices. Stop by their booth at both the Highland Square and Howe Meador Farmer’s Markets for a friendly hello. Grace your table with Log Cabin Farm’s fresh, colorful produce this week!

 

Ohio Farm Direct:

The folks at Ohio Farm Direct are 7th and 8th generation farmers bringing the benefits of grass farming from their pastures to your table. Their cattle have been 100 percent grass-fed since 2001. Along with the cattle, Ohio Farm Direct’s pasture and milk have been certified organic since 1997. The benefits of their certifications and feeding practices are proven in the taste and nutrition profile of their products. Market goers can enjoy Ohio Farm Direct’s grassfed beef and ODA licensed cheese, yogurt and ice cream at both Highland Square and Howe Meadow locations. Tickle your tastebuds this week with their flavorful cheeses. To the meat eaters out there, pick up an expert cut of their grassfed beef — your bellies will thank you for it!

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