They shoot up from garlic plants like a crazy stalk and then fall gracefully into quirky curls, this way and that, heavy from their own weight. And when their curvaceous seed pods burst into flowers, you know the garlic bulbs below the soil are nearly, if not completely, ready for harvest.
Garlic scapes taste like garlic. A crunchier, greener version of garlic. They can be sautéed or stir-fried or braised in place of or with regular cloves, heightening the garlic flavor.
Garlic scapes are in season in June. It’s a fleeting season, so a sense of urgency is important. Snatch them up from your local farmers’ market. Though they’re not available for long, they will keep for awhile.
Seek to preserve their sinuous nature when you cook with them. Challenge yourself to slice them lengthwise, creating long thin wisps that twist and turn in the dish. It’s a fun exercise. Alternatively, dice them fine, like a green onion.
GARLIC SCAPE CONFIT:
Cut about 5 stalks in half lengthwise, or dice them.
Peel two or three heads of garlic. Place the wispy scapes and peeled garlic cloves into a very shallow baking dish, about one inch deep. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme or other herbs. Pour enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the cloves and scapes. Cover the dish with foil and place in an oven set at 200 degrees.
Bake for about 30 minutes or so until the garlic cloves have softened. Check them after 15 minutes to make sure they aren’t browning too fast. You want light amber, not dark brown. Remove from the oven.
At this point you have something glorious: Garlic infused olive oil and soft roasted garlic cloves.
Serve the garlic cloves and scapes straight out of the baking dish alongside grilled or toasted bread. Or discard the scapes and thyme and store the garlic cloves and oil in an airtight jar.
The cloves can be tossed in salads or stirred into a rice dish; use the oil for vinaigrette or for drizzling onto fried eggs. You will find ways.
ARTICHOKE y AJO:
Take the garlic scape confit to another level by adding roasted artichoke hearts for a vegan variation on a traditional Mexican Camarones y Ajo.
After you pull the confit from the oven, crank up the heat to 400 degrees. If you are using canned or frozen artichoke hearts, make sure they are well drained and dry. Water is not a friend to the deep caramel results you are seeking when roasting. On a baking sheet with olive oil, roast the hearts for 15 minutes or so until caramelized.
While the artichokes are roasting, zest one lime and set aside to use as a garnish. Cut the lime in half and when the hearts come out of the oven, squeeze the lime over them and sprinkle with sea salt.
Add them to the garlic confit and garnish the dish with lime zest and fresh ground pepper. If you like heat, throw in some crushed red pepper flakes.
Serve with grilled bread, gluten free crackers or wooden skewers for spearing.
CAMARONES y AJO:
The traditional Mexican Camarones y Ajo that inspired the vegan version of this dish can be prepared the same way as the artichokes for a seafood version of this dish. Use a pound of small or medium peeled and deveined shrimp and roast in the same way as the artichoke hearts above. When the shrimp go from deep pink to pale, they’re ready.
There is no way the crazy obsessive cook in me is going to sit still during a two month “elimination” diet and be content eating plain food. I will instead finagle and manipulate ingredients until I get somewhere close to the flavor and textures of the foods I have committed to avoid.
I watched in envy at a restaurant the other day as a friend ate a bowl of rice noodles with peanut satay sauce. I love the way noodles absorb the creaminess of the traditional Indonesian sauce of peanut butter, ginger, lime and soy sauce. The dish is an exotic cousin to one of my other old favorites: fettucini alfredo.
Fortunately, it’s not that hard to mimic a creamy satay sauce with allergen free ingredients using any of the other nut or seed butters on the market. I used a peanut free mixed nut butter from Trader Joe’s that I have grown to love. (Only $5.99 for a 12 ounce jar). You could substitute tahini, almond butter and so on. I used coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.
I feel pretty good about the anti inflammatory cast of this sauce: fresh ginger, garlic and lime or lemon juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar. And cilantro as a garnish. These days, I treat cilantro like a leafy green instead of an herb finely minced to death. Just pile on a handful of the whole leaves.
When I am completely avoiding grains, I will enjoy this sauce with some stir-fried cabbage and leeks. The long julienned strands, caramelized until sweet, twirl on the fork like string pasta, and when necessary, bring satisfaction.
But today, thanks to the generosity of Dr. Mark Hyman’s elimination diet, which allows the occasional GF whole grain, I tossed the cabbage and sauce in with this new product: Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen noodles.
Ancient black rice is the new brown rice: supposedly higher in phytonutrients.
These noodles cook in 4 minutes and are delicate but not so much that they can’t stand up to the heavy sauce and cabbage. In fact, the pasta absorbed the sauce in exactly the way I had hoped and the dish turned out to prove my point: there is no need to sacrifice flavor and texture for good health.
Start with the cabbage and leeks
1 head of green cabbage, finely julienned in long strips (Or save time with a package of pre-cut cole slaw mix)
1 leek, finely julienned lengthwise
1 Tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
In a saute pan on medium high heat, melt the coconut oil and add the leeks. Leave them to begin to soften for about 5 minutes before adding the cabbage. Stir the two together and cover. Maintain the heat at medium so the cabbage doesn’t scorch, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook until the cabbage has caramelized, about 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta and start the sauce.
Process in a blender until smooth:
1 cup nut or seed butter of your choice
Juice 2 limes or 1 lemon
3 inches fresh ginger
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup coconut aminos
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Taste and add more water if the sauce is too thick to pour. The amount of water will vary depending on the type of nut or seed butter you are using.
Also add more coconut aminos or salt to your liking.
When the cabbage and sauce are ready, drop one of the Forbidden Rice Ramen blocks into the water (one for each person) and set the timer for 4 minutes. Remove from the water and strain well.
Toss the noodles with a couple of tablespoons of the satay sauce and top with generous amounts of stir fried cabbage and cilantro. Finely sliced cucumbers and raw cashews are other favorite garnishes.
Here is a description of the Forbidden Rice noodles
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