Garlic Scapes both Beautiful and Delicious
Thomas and I took a walk around the farm the other night. We had just finished dinner. It was about 7:15, and that’s my favorite time for a walk through the fields. I left all the dishes in the sink. It was a perfect night. I wasn’t about to waste the few precious hours we had together by washing dishes!
We walked to the far edge of the fields and slipped out of our flip flops. We left them alongside the pump house (thus named because it actually houses the well for part of the farm). From there, the boy headed right for the cucumber patch, hoping to snag a post-dinner snack. No dice, but the kirby cukes should be ready in a few days. If not enough for sale, at least enough for munching!
Not long into our adventure (because that’s what you call it when you’re with a 6-year-old!) Thomas’ cousin came running out to join us. It wasn’t soon after that that my camera caught two little ‘woodchucks’ gnawing away on carrots.
I truly believe one of the best ways to get kids to eat veggies is to let them grow and/or pick them right from the earth. It makes for a very meaningful relationship with nature, plus they get an education AND fill their bellies at the same time!
Before long, another cousin joined us and there wasn’t a moment of silence for the next 30 minutes. I’m sure I’ll say this again, but the consensus amongst the adults this night was, “Oh boy! Are we gonna be in trouble in a few years.” Three boys, less than 2 years separating their ages, with access to farm machinery, 60 acres of land, a large river and smarts beyond their years? I shudder when I think about it…..
When I wasn’t saying, “STOP stepping on the spinach”, “DON’T run through the corn”, “NO tying ropes around each others’ necks, please!” and “JUMP in that ditch one more time and we’re going home”, I was thinking about how inspired I am when I see our farm in full bloom. Although that isn’t the case now, I know from experience just what things will be like in a month or so. The green tomatoes inspire thoughts of “the best bruschetta I ever ate!” because I know those Polish Plums are on their way.
The garlic scapes have been removed so the bulbs are bulking up nicely and the greens are starting to dry. We’ll start harvesting the large bulbs in the next few weeks. I can almost taste the garlic, minced and warmed in olive oil, then poured over baby red potatoes so new that the tender skins peel when you touch them. Topped with chopped fresh parsley, kosher salt and several grinds of pepper, this is a meal in itself.
One day last week I was washing the piles and piles of garlic scapes (what would eventually be the seed pod of the garlic plant had we allowed it to stay ON the plant) . I knew I wanted to do SOMETHING with them, but what? The idea hit me when I was boxing up potted herbs for market — LEMON THYME! That is my new favorite herb. It’s bright citrus fragrance and woodsy thyme flavor are great and very versatile. So, there’s my inspiration! It never fails…. A smell, a sight… an idea is born.
In an effort to preserve some of the early summer garlic, I made a garlic scape-lemon thyme compound butter. I know, it sounds scary. Not at all! A compound butter can be sweet (cinnamon-sugar or orange zest and honey are excellent) or savory (parmesan cheese or parsley and lemon zest), and can be stored in the fridge for short term use or in the freezer for a longer period of time.
I’ve done many things with this butter since I made it, in addition to just eating it straight off of a spoon (ok, it was a knife… and a spatula… and my finger… but whatever. It was GOOD!). I melted it in a saute pan, stirred in some cooked linguini and a bit of pasta water, and topped it with a generous handful of freshly grated parmesan for dinner one night. The next morning it was the base of my scrambled eggs. Then it was a companion to the awesome semolina bread made by my dear friend Janet Picarelli (Janet’s Quality Baked Goods, Florida, NY).
I’m sure there are many other uses, but those will have to wait for the next batch. In the meantime, though, I’m keeping my eyes and ears and nose open to all the inspiration that’s just waiting out there for me. How about you? What inspires you to create something wonderful?
Garlic Scape and Lemon Thyme Butter
1 stick Unsalted Butter, room temperature
2 T minced Garlic Scapes
1 1/2 t Lemon Thyme leaves
1/4 t Kosher Salt and Ground Pepper to taste
And with Tilapia….
1 Tilapia fillet per person
1-2 T Garlic Scape-Lemon Thyme butter
3-4 Lemon wedges (withOUT seeds, please)
In mixing bowl, (with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, or even by hand) whip softened butter until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Stir in garlic scapes, lemon thyme, salt and pepper. Spoon butter into molds (mini silicone muffin cups or ice cube trays work well since they are very flexible) and refrigerate until solid, about 2 hours. Remove from molds and serve. You can also spoon the butter into a log on a piece of parchment or waxed paper and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap for the fridge or freezer. Just slice off what you need when you need it!
For the fish, melt the butter in a small nonstick pan. Place the fish in the pan, coating both sides with the flavorful compound butter, and squeeze the lemon wedges over top. Put the wedges in the pan with the fish, then cover tightly with a lid. Let the fish steam in the buttery-lemony goodness for about 5-7 minutes or until almost flaky and completely cooked through.
Serve this bit of deliciousness atop a bed of cooked whole wheat couscous and drizzle with whatever butter you can coax out of the pan.
Oh yeah… add a salad or a vegetable side dish too. Steamed carrots are delightful with some Garlic Scape-Lemon Thyme Butter! Just don’t plan this one for ‘date night’.