Monday, June 21, 2010

Meatless Monday

One thing that happens when you have access to a garden filled with a selection of spring greens, herbs, and onions is innovation in the kitchen.

Though the garden I'm tending while house sitting doesn't have basil growing, it does have parsley, spinach (and lots of other leafy greens) plus a selection of onions, including garlic.

The garlic, busily forming underground into the bulb we recognize, is also sprouting long green shoots above ground. These green shoots grow into curly tendrils that look quite exotic (see slide show below).

And what I discovered via a Facebook friend is that those exotic-looking tendrils are called garlic scapes and they're delicious cooked or eaten raw in say, a pesto.

The scape's flavor is a cross between garlic and the purple spring onions I posted about last Friday.

Because I find raw garlic highly pungent, when I blended the scapes into the pesto sauce I made yesterday, I added equal portions of both spinach and parsley.

Whenever I make traditional pesto with basil, garlic, Parmesan and nuts, I toss in a handful of parsley. The chlorophyll in the parsley helps counteract the heat of the garlic and it balances out the highly aromatic basil.

And having made a batch of garlic scape pesto, naturally it lent itself to a Meatless Monday pasta dish!

If you want to try your hand at today's meatless meal, and you don't have garlic scapes in your veggie garden, look for them at your local farmer's market.

Follow the slide show and method recipe below to make:

Pasta with Garlic Scape Pesto

1) Wash about 4-6 scapes, and a small handful each of spinach and parsley. Drain.
2) Put scapes and greens into a blender with about 3/4 of a cup of olive oil.
3) Pulse until the oil and greens and blended, then add several tablespoons of grated Parmesan and pulse again.
4) Taste test. Add salt and pepper if you wish, and a splash of lemon or lime juice.
Optional: Rather than salt the pesto, you could add a squirt of anchovy paste or even several anchovy fillets and a bit of the oil from the tin.
5) Boil your choice of pasta. Drain, and then run colander under the hot water tap and flush out starchy water. Return pasta pot the stove, stir for a minute over low heat to dry pasta.
6) Away from the hot plate, stir pesto through pasta.

To Serve: Pour pesto pasta into a large serving bowl. Decorate the top with black olives. I garnished the edge of the bowl with snap-pea greens and the white, edible flowers attached to the greens.

With the pasta, I served a large garden salad, the one I posted last week, though I omitted the garlic from the dressing since the garlic scapes in the pesto was sufficient garlic for one meal.

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