A couple of days ago, my son Hunter answered the door. A nice lady at the door presented him a bundle of garlic scapes for his mother. Hunter said her name might be Judy? Julie? Well, whoever you may be, THANK YOU for the lovely gift. And let me know who you are! One can never have too many garlic scapes, and I so appreciate your generosity.
I grow hard neck garlic every year, and I must say that the scapes that shoot out from the ground in June and July are one of my favorite things in my garden. First of all, it is essential that you cut the scapes off, so that all the energy in the plant goes to forming luscious bulbs of garlic. But even more essential is that you use those scapes. Do not throw them into the compost, silly.
They are like a cross between asparagus and garlic, only really curly.
If you do not grow your own garlic, it is still possible in the late spring and early summer to obtain garlic scapes at farmers markets.
Their culinary applications range from ridiculously easy to breathtakingly sublime.
• Ridiculously easy recipe #1: Sauté or chargrill a bunch of scapes until tender in sesame oil;season with salt and sesame seeds.
• Ridiculously easy recipe #2: Make garlic scape vinegar by shoving a two or three scapes into a bottle of rice wine vinegar for 3 or 4 days. Then pull them out. Poor the scape vinegar over cucumbers or any other salad.
• Ridiculously easy recipe #3: Make a garlic scape pesto with chopped garlic scapes, sunflower seeds, olive oil and parmesan. I store them in little tiny plastic containers and sometimes I freeze them, but usually not. This pesto can be tossed with pasta for a simple side dish, and they are absolutely divine tossed with Yukon Gold potatoes as an appetizer.
So today, as I was pondering what to do with a big batch of haricot verts (skinny little green beans) and romaine, I decided to break out the garlic scape pesto for my own version of a Salade Nicoise. Perfect for a summer evening.
Scaped Salade Nicoise
First make the dressing: I blended about ¼ cup of garlic scape pesto with the juice of half a really big lemon, ¾ cup of olive oil, a spoonful of Dijon, a drop or two of honey and salt to taste. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Then you prep the ingredients.
1. I boiled 4 farm-fresh eggs hard by bring them to a hard boil in water and then immediately turning off the stove. They end up cooking perfectly, with beautiful yellow yolks, in the hot water and with their own heat.
2. I then parboiled a few big handfuls of haricot verts until they turned bright green, scooping them out of the boiling water and then plunging them into a large bowl of ice water.
3. I then submerged 2 quartered Yukon Gold potatoes into the boiling water, fished them out after about 10 minutes, and let the water evaporate just a little bit before slicing them and tossing them, still warm in a bit of the lemony garlic scape dressing.
4. I then put the eggs, dressed potatoes and beautiful bright green beans into the fridge, along with two cans of tuna, so they all be could be really cold when time to assemble the Salade. You could use fresh cooked tuna, or even leftover grilled salmon, but it wouldn’t be the same.
Now to make the salad.
1. Open and drain your tuna. DO NOT USE tuna chunks packed in water, which would make the salad taste a lot like wet paper had been mixed into . Use whole tuna preserved in oil, and spread a little of the magic garlic scape dressing over it.
2. Make a base for the salad with a goodly amount of mixed greens into a large, shallow bowl.
3. Arrange artfully over the lettuce the following:
• The beautiful bright beans, seasoned
• The shelled eggs, quartered, perhaps with a smidgeon of truffle salt sprinkled over
• The dressed potatoes
• The seasoned tuna
• A few slices of red onions
• A few pitted Kalamata olives
• Sliced ripe tomatoes
• A garnish of bottled anchovies, a sprinkling of capers
4. After presenting this gorgeous assemblage to your dining companions, pour a reasonable amount of the garlic scape dressing over it all to toss.
You want to dress it, not drench it.