The Great Scape
Parabolic and hyperbolic garlic scapes appear in the greenmarkets this time of year. The beauties above are from Maxwell Farm. These are the immature tops of garlic plants and they have a flavor similar to garlic but milder and greener. Usually I shave them into salads but this was the first time I cooked them as a vegetable. I am very happy with the results; the cooked garlic scapes have a mildly garlicky flavor and a very pleasant texture, retaining a satisfying toothiness when fully tender.
I didn’t get any fat-stemmed golden chard this week, but I did find this sweet little bunch of petal-pink chard from Yuno’s Farm. There’s the color of June right there. Just look at them. If that doesn’t make you want to braid flowers into your hair and dance barefoot down East 14th Street, I don’t know what will.
Fedelini with Walnuts, Chard and Garlic Scapes
12 walnuts, whole or coarsely broken
¼ pound fedelini or other thin pasta
¼ pound tender chard (1 smallish bunch)
¼ pound garlic scapes (eight scapes)
a few tablespoons butter at room temperature
several tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano
salt and lots of black pepper
If you happen to have some on hand you can add a bit of cream, or a blob of bechamel, maybe a scraping of nutmeg.
Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in a moderate oven for 15 or 20 minutes. They will be done just in time to assemble the dish.
Chop the chard roughly and cut the garlic scapes into ¾ inch lengths. Bring a large pot of lavishly salted water to the boil and add the pasta and the vegetables. Return to the boil and cook, giving an occasional stir. Everything will be perfectly done at exactly the same moment. Sometimes it is our privilege to see that there is such a thing as providence in the world. Now here’s where you have to pay attention: drain the pasta and greens and place them in a large warm bowl. Add a few tablespoons of grated Parmigiano Reggiano and mix, mix, toss, toss. Add a tablespoon of butter and several grindings of black pepper and mix, mix, toss, toss. Repeat until you have added as much butter and cheese as you are willing to permit yourself. Salt and optional ingredients to taste. Take the walnuts out of the oven, and sprinkle them over the pasta.
You might be thinking that the amount of greens is way too much for the pasta, but bear in mind that during cooking, pasta gains volume and the greens deflate. This recipe will provide the best ratio of greens to fedelini in each forkful or fingerful.
Other herbs of varying degrees of curviness can be found at Weekend Herb Blogging.