A few weeks ago, we joined a CSA, or “Community Supported Agriculture,” with Farmer Dave’s based in Dracut, Mass. Each Monday, we pick up a share of fresh crops in Beverly, just a little hop from our place in Salem, Mass. The variety of veggies is different each week and depends on field conditions. For instance, this week we had beets, spinach, yellow and green zucchinis, fennel, Swiss chard, lettuce and more.
It’s more than enough produce for the two of us. It is also great since it makes us eat more healthy. We can get creative with our meals (I made some beet cupcakes with an orange cream cheese frosting from our second week’s crops), and we support local farmers.
We especially like the last part after watching documentaries like “Food Inc.,” which details how the government regulates the U.S. food supply. Plus, with the rising cost of fuel, those increases are then transferred to all of our food purchases. So, if we can buy locally, we save a little in the end by not buying produce from across the country or that is out of season. We always know what we have is fresh and local. It’s a good feeling to know that you’re supporting a local, small business, too.
With the CSA, we have been introduced to some new veggies – like Swiss chard, fennel, beets and today’s feature – garlic scapes.
You all know garlic with its pungent, strong flavor. Garlic scapes are long and curly at the ends. You could easily confuse the scape with a chive, and you wouldn’t be far off. The two are almost cousins.
Garlic scapes are picked earlier in the harvest season. It’s the shoot that comes off the bulb of garlic (what we’re most familiar with) before it changes to the opaque tint of the garlic skin. The veggie is pretty versatile. You can use it as a garnish, with eggs or in various pestos like the recipe below.
Now that we are friends with the garlic scape, we have used it in tofu stir fries and soups to add a new level of flavor to our dishes. I hope you get acquainted with this little fella, too.
Garlic Scapes and Basil Pesto (Recipe adapted from Serious Eats)
- 4 to 5 garlic scapes, roughly chopped
- Large handful basil leaves
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pepper, to taste
Combine the garlic scapes, basil and half the oil in a small food processor or blender. Process or blend until the leaves and scapes are finely chopped, then add the nuts and remaining oil. Process or blend until nicely mixed.
Add in the cheese, pulse until just blended. If necessary, add more olive oil to create a loose paste. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed.
To serve, mix with your favorite pasta. We used Trader Joe’s brown rice rotini and a side of broccoli for quick and very easy weeknight meal with very little prep. You could also use this as a spread on a fresh baguette.
View this slideshow of how to prepare the pesto.