It is easy to love the fleeting foods: blood oranges, fiddleheads, ramps, garlic scapes. Anything rare or temporally restricted becomes more precious, but these foods also share a quality of particular and bizarre beauty. The tight, snaily coils of fiddleheads, the deep and surprising colour of blood oranges, the attractive, Seussian quality of scapes. They are alien vegetables, whirligigs that wouldn't look out of place next to the lorax.
Scapes are also pretty tasty. These mild garlicky greens make great pesto, which is my default when encounter any greens I am not certain how to use. But they are great eaten as a vegetable in their own right, not only as a garnish. The stems of larger scapes can be fibrous and tough, so make sure to grill them thouroughly, until the fat end of the stem is tender-crisp like a green bean.
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives
- 1/2 cup green olives
- 1 tbs capers
- 1-2 anchovy fillets (optional for anchovy-phobes, but highly recommended)
- 1 bunch parsley
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- a generous grind of black pepper
Blend all ingredients in a food processor until a rough paste forms.
- 2 bunches garlic scapes
- olive oil to coat
Coat garlic scapes in oil and grill over high heat on a barbecue or heavy grill pan. Turn scapes after a minute and cook until they have begun to wilt and are well charred. Scapes can be quite woody and they should be cooked well; make sure to test a bit of scape from the thick end of the stalk for doneness.
Toss cooked scapes in tapenade, adding a little extra olive oil to thin the tapenade if it is too thick.
Serving: these scapes are wonderful served on their own as a side dish with grilled meat or fish. They are also great roughly chopped and tossed into hot pasta, with a spoonful or two of pasta cooking water to thin the tapenade slightly. I also like to make little tartines or crostini out of the olivey scapes by spreading goat cheese on a slice of crusty bread or cracker and topping it with a mound of chopped tapenade scapes.
Photo credits: Tyrel Hiebert