Garlic Scape Pesto Times Two

I have been back from the UK and still feel unprepared to write about the trip.  I thoroughly enjoyed the time with new and old friends.  I saw amazing sites and took some pretty good photos.  I ate a lot of potatoes and fish and pork [gasp!].  The trip was the perfect balance of sight-seeing and relaxing.  Look forward to some words about the UK shortly, but for now I must move on to other timely topics.

Week 6 of our CSA offered this beautiful bounty.  In the back is another huge head of lettuce.  The lettuce this year has often been larger than my head, requiring only a leaf or two for a side salad.  Fresh and crisp.  Delish.  Moving forward, is some beautiful rainbow swiss chard which was turned into a caramelized onion and chard fritatta for breakfast with yoga friends yesterday morning.  A bunch of beets are near the front.  The greens were braised in stock, shallots, and garlic and served with the roasted beets as a side dish one evening.  A few sprigs of basil are tucked in the front.  They served as back up to the main stars of this week.  See those curly garlic scapes in there?  They were one of my favorite CSA arrivals last year and I have eagerly awaited their return this year.  Here’s a shot of them up close.   My understanding is that cutting the tops, or scapes, from the garlic root, encourages growth.  I am happy to foresee gorgeous heads of garlic in my summer and fall shares and enjoy the more gentle flavor of scapes today.  Last year, I discovered garlic scape pesto.  This week, I made a batch with the fresh basil, scapes, cashews, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

As with many things, pesto-making requires no formal recipe.  Each batch should be as unique as the individual mixing it up.  I put about 6 garlic scapes, 15 leaves of basil, 1/3c of cashews, a dash of salt and pepper in the food processor.  I drizzled in olive oil until an aromatically lovely sauce formed.  After tasting, I realized I had quite a garlicy pesto.  I decided that a gentle heating would help cut some of the spicy garlic flavor.

For the first night, I baked slabs of tofu in the oven.  You could pay fry them on the stovetop, but I was roasting beets at the same time and when the summer temperatures rise, I try to use the oven as little as possible and to maximize the energy expenditure when I do turn the dial on.  I popped tofu slices in an oiled baking pan at 400 degrees.  After 10 minutes or so, I flipped the slices and browned on the other side.  I topped the slices with a dab of pesto and popped back in the oven for an additional few minutes.  The additional heat was perfect.  The pesto was still fresh and clean, but the bite of the raw garlic was tempered.  It was a lovely main dish.  I suspect roasted or grilled chicken or fish would be lovely this way.  Try it and let me know!

Later that week, I made gluten-free pasta and tossed it quickly in a warm pan with the rest of the pesto.  The second meal was lovely.  Fresh like a warm spring June evening.  A fresh salad, glass or two of pinot grigio, and the conversation of friends is the perfect way to compliment this meal.

As our tomato and pepper plants are hanging heavily with future meal prospects, we eagerly await Tuesday’s CSA share.  Zucchini and yellow squash should arrive soon, right?  How are you enjoying the fresh produce of the season?

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