March 16, 2010

The great scape: Curly tendrils a garlic lover's dream

— ''Scape'' is an old botanical term for a stalk that rises from a root. Certain varieties of garlic produce scapes that ascend through the leaves and then twist into a curl or coil topped by a seed-like bulb.

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Jack Milton/Staff Photographer: Friday, May 16, 2008: Brooke Dojny, Food and Health columnist.

Jack Milton

If left to develop naturally, the garlic plant will throw all its energy into the flower, but when the scapes are harvested in full curl, they themselves are edible -- crisp and delicious, with a milder flavor than head garlic. Lots of Maine farmers' markets sell them now, and they're even starting to appear in local supermarkets.

Make your own pesto for this easy garlic scape pizza, or use the scapes in one of the other ways suggested below.

GARLIC SCAPE PIZZA

One 12-inch round pizza dough (homemade or purchased, or use focaccia)

1/2 cup garlic scape pesto (see below) or good quality store-bought pesto

About 6 garlic scapes

1/3 cup fresh goat cheese

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place dough on baking sheet, spread with pesto, arrange garlic scapes overlapping, dot with goat cheese and drizzle with oil.

Bake in preheated oven until crust browns, cheese softens and garlic scapes are crispy and tinged with dark brown (10 to 15 minutes). Cut in wedges and serve.

Makes two to three servings.

GARLIC SCAPE PESTO

¾ cup coarsely chopped garlic scapes

½ cup packed parsley sprigs

1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup pine nuts or other nuts

½ cup olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, pulse together the garlic scapes, parsley, cheese and nuts. With motor running, slowly pour in oil and process to make a slightly coarse paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This pesto will stay bright-green for several days in the refrigerator or can be frozen.

ALSO TRY THESE ...

n Brush scapes lightly with oil and grill until blackened on edges. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a dribble of balsamic vinegar.

n Press into the tops of steaks, hamburgers, or meaty fish such as swordfish, and grill.

n Add chopped scapes to omelets and frittatas.

n Cut into 2-inch lengths and add to a stir-fry.

n Finely mince and stir into fresh goat cheese or cream cheese.

n Chop and add to tomato sauce or other pasta sauce.

n Use wherever you'd use scallions.

n Add to flower arrangements.

n Wear on the wrist as beautiful fragrant jewelry.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently ''Dishing Up Maine'' (Storey Publishing 2006) and ''The New England Clam Shack Cookbook'' (Storey 2008). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula.

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