Monday, July 11, 2011

Sustenance


I've noticed that Quebec asparagus are still hanging about at the farmers' market. They remind me of gangs of teenagers loitering about in the malls: quite harmless, but somewhat unwelcome. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE asparagus -I'm sure that I've mentioned this fact almost as much as I've professed my love of peas- but on the rare occasions that the local asparagus season extends into July, I get rather turned off at the sight of them. By late June, I've quite had my fill for the year, gorged myself silly, and thought of every single way I could remember to dress the green spears. By the time July rolls in, my thoughts have turned to new pastures: I'm thinking garlic and tomatoes.

More specifically, my every thought is tinged by the aroma of garlic scapes. I usually try hold out from buying them at the market because I know that the flower stalks will be appearing in my CSA basket. But I am a weak, weak, weak person when it comes to resisting my food and aesthetic urges. The scapes are too pretty, what with their curlicue necks and pointed caps, I cannot deny them. Thus, I find myself with a surfeit of garlicky stalks that embalm my fridge and cloud my judgment.


What to do with the strange beasts? I usually stock up on zippy, garlicky pesto that keeps well in the refrigerator, and freezes almost indefinitely. The pesto is a lovely stand-in for garlic in any recipe, but the vegetable has its own merits. The bunches sold at the market, or found in one's CSA basket, are often sufficient for a year's worth of pesto and ample left-overs. Which begs the question, what now?

The garlic's frivolous flower stalk is a rather tame creature that will not lash out when consumed raw. Its flavour has definite garlicky-ness, but it is mild and has a touch of chlorophylic 'green' tones. The scapes add a delightful crunch when uncooked, and deserve to be only lightly warmed through if served hot. It is more piquant than pungent, though your nose may disagree with this notion. The following non-recipe is best consumed the day it's made, any left-overs -even when hermetically sealed- will embalm the ice-box in its entirety.


Saucy Tomato and Garlic Scape Salad 

A few garlic scapes - count about 2 or 3 per person
Tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Fresh, chopped herbs, optional

Wash and trim the scapes, removing only the dried bits on top and at the bottom.
Thinly slice or chop the scapes. This step can be done in a food processor, as the curlicues can be a little fiddly to chop.
Chop the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks.
In a bowl, gently combine the tomatoes and scapes. 
Season to taste. Drizzle with olive oil.
Cover tightly, and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
Adjust seasoning, and serve at room temperature.


After resting, the tomatoes will have rendered a lot of water, whereby making its own 'dressing'. Cherry tomatoes are often the tastier early tomatoes, and are particularly suited for this salad. Try to use different varieties for added colour and flavours. The salad is lovely as is, but you can add cubes of soft cheese (I am currently partial to Buflone mozzarella...) if you want to make a meal of it. This salad can also be transformed with the addition of cooked or sprouted grains, such as whole wheat berries, kamut, bulghur, or quinoa. Or, you can do as the Italians do in the summer, and use the salad as a cold sauce for hot pasta. Buonissima!




Bon app'!



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