Tag Archive | Garlic Scapes

Beth and Annalie’s Garden Dinner

Beth and Annalie live and garden in Dalarna, Sweden–a picturesque region of small farms and iron-oxide-red barns and houses tucked into the hills along narrow, winding roads. They live in an old farmhouse; the barn is now their woodworking shop. Their yard is the old barnyard–a small plot of land so densely planted I almost got lost wandering the paths between garden spaces, admiring the garden gates and compost pile.

Willow Compost Bin

Dalarna is in central north Sweden–a challenging place to garden–so Beth and Annalie planted a living fence of willow to shield their vegetable garden space from the wind and create a warmer microclimate. Theirs is a free-spirited, rambling garden…pathways lace through raised beds of rich, dark earth, and plants jumble together–cilantro in the asparagus, borage in the kale, and calendula and poppies everywhere. There are beds of thriving potatoes, wildly happy garlic, and a forest of the biggest strawberry plants I have ever seen. It is a permaculture garden of flowers, herbs, vegetables, berries, and fruit trees finding a home together. The surrounding forests and meadows are a mushroom hunters’ heaven.

Swedish Garden

There is amazing diversity here–hazelnuts, apples, pears, cherries, gooseberries, raspberries…all loaded with fruit. An herb garden spills over with giant angelica, sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, mint, dill, and lemon balm. Everywhere you look there are plants bursting into the long days of Swedish summer. This has been an especially cool and wet spring and summer in Sweden, so the garden is full of cool-season crops: parsnips, carrots, peas, fava beans, kale, collards, cabbage, turnips, celery, lettuce, bunching onions, a very tasty pigweed, and arugula. A tiny glass house provides a warm environment for Beth’s hot peppers, a few tomatoes, and basil; window-frame tents create shelter for squash and cucumber. Out of this bounty Beth and Annalie cook wonderful garden meals.

Strawberries

Potato Salad with Green Sauce

Potato and Olive Salad

Beth used freshly dug small new potatoes for her salad. Any smooth-skinned new potatoes or fingerlings–red, white, or yellow–will work.

The Potatoes: Chop 1 1/2 lbs. potatoes into roughly 3/4-inch cubes. Cook them in a vegetable steamer until they are tender and easily pierced with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes. Put them in a bowl with 4 finely chopped shallots or green onions, season with kosher or sea salt, and toss with 3 Tbs sherry or cider vinegar.

Ch0p 2 tsp fresh thyme, 2 tsp fresh oregano, 4 Tbs parsley, 4 Tbs cilantro, 1 cup arugula, and 1 cup pigweed (substitute endive, radicchio, or escarole). Mix the herbs into the potatoes. Add a small handful pitted green olives.

Make a paste with 1 minced garlic clove and a pinch of coarse salt. Whisk together with 1 tsp whole grain mustard, 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, and 5 Tbs extra virgin olive oil. Toss the dressing with the potatoes. Serve with Green Sauce.

The Green Sauce: Steam 4 cups chopped mixed greens (spinach, chard, kale, collards, borage) until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze out excess liquid. Put the cooked greens in a blender with 1 tsp fresh thyme, 1 tsp fresh oregano, 2 Tbs parsley, 2 Tbs cilantro, 1/4 tsp red chile flakes (or 1 small minced hot chile), 1/2 tsp turmeric, and 2 large garlic cloves. Puree smooth. Mix the puree with 1 cup thick whole milk Russian or Greek yogurt. Add salt to taste.

Green Dip

I was irresistibly drawn to the robust, whirling garlic scapes in Beth and Annalie’s garden. They had never tried garlic scape pesto, so I harvested a bunch to make some. The scapes are chopped into 1-inch pieces (to make about 2 cups) and blanched in salted boiling water 1 minute. Scoop them out and put in a blender or food processor with 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, and 2 or 3 Tbs toasted nuts (we had peanuts). Puree to make a smooth sauce. Add 1 or 2 Tbs of the blanching water to make the pesto thinner.

Garlic Scapes

Wild Forest Mushroom Soup

Beth took us to her secret mushroom spot in a boggy birch forest. There was deep moss underfoot and the smell of  rain-soaked leaves and fallen logs. We looked for patches of small chanterelles–like golden nuggets hidden in the forest floor. We found just enough for a taste, so Beth made her mushroom soup mostly with dried chanterelles, full of wild and woodsy flavor. Other varieties of wild or “cultivated wild” mushrooms–shitake, oyster, morels, cremini, or porcini can be used for the soup, with different and delicious results. You can also use a combination of dried and fresh, or cultivated and wild mushrooms.

The stock: Beth made her soup with a combination of the mushroom soaking liquid and vegetable bouillon. Other options include homemade or good quality canned mushroom, vegetable, chicken, or meat stock.

Make your own Stock:

*Wild Mushroom Soup Stock: Start with 1 oz (3/4 to 1 cup) dried mushrooms and/or mushroom stems (porcini, shitake, any flavorful mushroom…) Wash the mushrooms well to get rid of grit. Put the washed mushrooms in a bowl and cover with 1 1/2 cups hot water. Weight them with a small plate and let sit 20 to 30 minutes, until soft. Strain, reserving the liquid. Squeeze out excess liquid and chop into small pieces. Strain the liquid through a coffee filter or cloth.

Warm 2 Tbs olive oil in a heavy bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 large chopped onion, 2 diced carrots, 2 thinly sliced celery stalks, 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves, and 2 bay leaves. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 to 8 minutes, until they are lightly browned. Add 4 sprigs fresh thyme, 4 or 5 Tbs roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, the soaked mushrooms, their strained soaking liquid, and 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour. Strain the stock through a sieve. Store in the refrigerator up to 5 days or freezer up to 6 months if not used right away.

*Basic Vegetable Stock: Warm 4 Tbs olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups chopped onion, 1 cup chopped leeks (including green part), 1 1/2 cups chopped carrots, 3/4 cup chopped celery with leaves, and 4 lightly smashed garlic cloves. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly browned. Note: An alternative method is to toss all the vegetables with the oil, spread them out on a roasting pan, and roast them in a 400-degree F. oven until browned, about 40 minutes. Either way, you want the vegetables to be lightly caramelized before adding the liquid. Add 2 bay leaves, 3 or 4 branches flat leaf parsley, 4 sprigs fresh thyme, and 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns to the vegetables in the pot. Add 8 cups water; bring to a boil, and simmer, partially covered, for 1 1/2 hours. Strain the stock and store in the refrigerator up to 5 days or freezer up to 6 months if not used right away.

*Easy Chicken Stock: I like to make chicken stock from the bones left over from roasting whole organic chickens stuffed with fresh thyme, lemons, and lots of garlic. I put 2 or 3 chickens’ worth of bones in a slow cooker, cover the bones with water, and let the pot simmer all night. Alternately, roast 3 or 4 pounds organic chicken parts (wings, backs, legs, necks…) in a 400-degree F. oven 45 to 60 minutes until well browned. Scrape the chicken and any pan dripping into a large stock pot or slow cooker, add 1 or 2 coarsely chopped carrots, 1 thickly sliced onion, 2 celery stalks, 4 lightly smashed garlic cloves, and 3 quarts water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer gently, covered, 3 hours to overnight. Strain the stock. Cool and remove the fat. Store the stock in the refrigerator up to 5 days, or in the freezer up to 6 months.

*Beef Bone Broth: Use big meaty bones from grass-fed beef  (our neighbor Rodney gave me some from a bull he butchered). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Fill a roasting pan with the bones, roast them for about 1 hour, until well browned. Pour off the rendered fat, put the bones in a slow-cooker or large stockpot, add water to cover, and simmer 4 to 12 hours. Strain the broth, cool, and remove the fat before using or storing. Store in the refrigerator up to 5 days or in the freezer up to 6 months.

*Quick Stock (Improving Canned Chicken Broth): Sauté or roast coarsely chopped aromatic vegetables in olive oil until lightly browned. For about 6 cups canned broth, use 1 medium onion, 2 carrots, 1 celery stalk with leaves, 2 lightly smashed garlic cloves, 2 branches flat leaf parsley, and 1 bay leaf. Simmer the sautéed vegetables, covered, in the canned chicken broth about 30 minutes. Strain the broth before using or storing.

The Soup: Use about 2 cups dried wild mushrooms (2 oz), a combination of 1/2 oz (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup) dried wild mushrooms and 8 to 12 oz fresh wild or cultivated mushrooms, or 1 to 1 1/4 pounds mixed fresh wild and cultivated mushrooms. Prepare the dried mushrooms as for the mushroom stock. Clean and slice the fresh mushrooms about 1/4-inch thick.

Warm 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Stir in 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion (2 medium onions). Reduce the heat and cook the onion slowly until very soft.

While the onions cook, warm 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the fresh mushrooms, tossing to coat with oil. Allow the mushrooms to cook without stirring until they soften, 5 or 6 minutes. Add the chopped rehydrated mushrooms (if using) and continue to cook the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly browned. You may need to add a little butter or oil if the pan gets too dry. Stir in 2 Tbs thinly sliced garlic, 1/4 tsp red chile flakes, 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, and 4 tsp fresh marjoram leaves. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook 2 minutes.

Stir the sautéed mushrooms into the onions. Add 3 Tbs chopped parsley, 1 Tbs tomato paste, 2 or 3 finely chopped sundried tomatoes, 1/2 cup dry white wine, and any reserved mushroom liquid (or 1 cup stock). Bring the liquid to a boil; simmer briskly until reduced by half, 5 minutes. Add 6 or 7 cups stock of your choice. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer the soup gently 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in 2 Tbs sherry (optional) and 2 or 3 Tbs cream. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in 2 Tbs finely chopped parsley leaves.

Serve with toasted, crusty bread and freshly grated Parmesan or other hard, aged cheese. Beth added blue cheese, which was perfect.

The Bottomless Pot: I made this soup with dried shitake, oyster, and porcini mushrooms and Rodney’s bone broth. The mushrooms looked skimpy, so I added more…probably about 3 cups total, and ended up with a lot of soup. If your soup is really thick, like mine was the second day, it makes great pasta sauce. I also used 1 1/2 cups soup mixed with crushed tomatoes and a little red wine to braise meatballs.  I thinned more of the left over soup with broth and added braised red cabbage to make deeply flavored borscht. Finally, I used the last of it to make a wild rice and chard soup.

Spring Vegetable Explosion

It’s an explosion! Asparagus spears rocket out of the ground…mountains of cauliflower erupt…a forest of broccoli unfurls…and garlic scapes twirl into the sky. After waiting and waiting, it seems as if I turn my back there’s another wheelbarrow load of vegetables bursting out of the garden. What to do with all these vegetables? Roll the wheelbarrow into the kitchen and invite your friends over for a party. Vegetables make great starters…or a whole meal.

Broccoli “Strascinato”

Broccoli

Strascinato means “dragged” in Italian. In this case, dragged around the pan with olive oil, garlic, and hot red pepper. Nothing better could happen to a head of broccoli.

Cut a large head of broccoli into florets of equal size. Cut large ones in half, and cut the stems into pieces, too. Boil the broccoli in a large pot of salted water (2 Tbs salt for 4 qts. water) for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender-crisp. Drain and cool.

Warm 4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil over low heat in a 12-inch skillet or sauté pan with a generous Tbs minced garlic and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or a small minced hot pepper). Cook the garlic, stirring occasionally, until softened. The garlic should not color.

Add the cooked broccoli to the pan, stirring well to coat the florets with the garlic oil. Season with salt to taste.

Cauliflower with Black Olives and Mint

Break or cut a large head of cauliflower into floret. Cut the large ones in half to make even-sized pieces. Boil in well-salted water (3 Tbs kosher or sea salt for 4 qts. water) for about 3 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender-crisp. The cauliflower can be steamed, if you prefer, but the salted water seasons it as it cooks. Drain and cool.

Put the cooked cauliflower in a large bowl and toss gently with 4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil and 2 Tbs white wine vinegar. Add 2 Tbs finely chopped fresh mint leaves, 2 tsp capers, and a handful chopped black olives (oil-cured or brined). Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and more vinegar to taste.

Gerardo’s Cauliflower with Egg and Cheese

Gerardo made this dish for us at Tenuta San’Arcangelo, broiled in individual custard bowls and deliciously browned on top. It can be cooked in a hot skillet just as well, as Arthur Schwartz describes in his cookbook, The Southern Italian Table.

Break a head of cauliflower into florets, cutting the larger ones to make even-sized pieces. Boil the cauliflower in well-salted water until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain in a colander.

Mix together 3 beaten eggs with 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and a pinch of cayenne. Stir the cooked Cauliflower into the egg mixture, tossing gently to coat well.

Transfer the mixture to a buttered gratin dish or individual custard dishes. Place under a pre-heated broiler 6 to 8 minutes, until the egg is set and the top is browned.

Alternatively, heat 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. When the oil shimmers, stir the cauliflower and egg mixture well and transfer it to the hot pan. Drizzle the remaining egg over the cauliflower. When the egg is set, flip the cauliflower over to brown the other side. Continue to turn the florets to lightly brown all sides. Remove from the pan and serve hot or at room temperature. A squeeze of fresh lemon is nice.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic scapes are the wild-looking seed heads that a garlic plant sends out toward the sky, twisting and twirling on the way. Snapping them off results in larger garlic bulbs for harvest as well as a potent ingredient for cooking. I chop them up and use them in place of garlic cloves in a sauté or stir-fry.

To make a brilliant green garlicky pesto, chop a bunch of garlic scapes into 1-inch pieces  (to make about 1 cup) and toss them into boiling water for about 1 minute. Drain. Put them in a food processor with a handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, a handful of sorrel, a small handful arugula, and 1/3 cup Parmesan. Puree and add 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil and salt to taste.

Serve smeared on bread, tossed with pasta, or added to other dishes like Cauliflower with Eggs.

Garlic Scape Sauté with Mushrooms

Garlic Scapes

Heat 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot enough to shimmer, add about 8 oz chopped mushrooms, 1 medium-sized chopped sweet onion, and about 1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes. Sprinkle with salt, and sauté until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add 1 large roasted red pepper, diced. Stir and cook until the pepper is warmed, about 1 minute. Taste for seasoning, and add a splash of balsamic vinegar.

I served this as a topping for fish; it would be equally good with stir-fried tofu.

Our Favorite Asparagus

Asparagas

We love asparagus, and our favorite way to cook it is stovetop grilling. Grilling (or roasting in a hot oven) concentrates the asparagus flavor and results in spears that are caramelized outside, tender inside, and delicious.

Heat a large iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. Place clean, dry asparagus in a salad bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Roll the spears around so they are well coated with oil. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Place the asparagus on the hot griddle in a single layer. Leave them for several minutes. When one side is browned and sizzling, turn them over. Roll the spears around occasionally until they are browned all over and tender inside, about 10 minutes. Medium-thick asparagus cooks best this way.

Peas, Glorious Peas

I grow Sugar Snap peas these days, and love to eat them right off the vine. If they get cooked at all, it’s very briefly–30 to 60 seconds in salted boiling water, or steamed 1 or 2 minutes. The brief cooking softens them just enough to let them absorb flavors from a vinaigrette better.

*Most simple: 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp rice vinegar, and 1 Tbs toasted sesame oil

*Poki: In a small saucepan, warm 3 Tbs peanut or grapeseed oil and 3 Tbs toasted sesame oil with 2 Tbs finely chopped ginger, 1 Tbs finely chopped garlic, and 1 finely chopped hot red pepper (fresh or dried). Heat until small bubbles rise around the aromatics. Remove from the heat and set aside for 1 hour. Strain the oil (or not) and whisk in 3 Tbs soy sauce, 3 Tbs rice vinegar, and 1 Tbs fresh lime juice, and 1/2 tsp sugar.

*Citrus-Nut Oil: Whisk together 4 Tbs fresh orange juice, 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice, 2 Tsp orange zest, 1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar, 1 garlic clove mashed with 1/4 tsp kosher salt, 1/4 tsp crushed fennel seed, and 6 Tbs walnut oil. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Dress the freshly cooked peas with the vinaigrette of choice. Sprinkle with finely chopped fresh mint or cilantro. Serve the peas straight up, or on a bed of Asian noodles tossed with pea shoots.