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Summer (Cherries, Green Couscous, Garlic Scapes)

Dessert in a tree.

My four-year-old son Ellis and I spent a night at my mother’s place last week.  She lives in the middle of nowhere and has neighbors with cherry trees and fruit picking ladders. Ellis climbed right to the top of this rather tall ladder and ate his fill of Royal Ann cherries, gleefully spitting the pits down onto our heads. Actually he mostly missed our heads but cackled with each dropping pit. The setting sun and a sticky, happy kid . . .. Summer, finally here (though absent again today) is so wonderful. And if you have lots of cherries and need a new idea for them, try this wonderful recipe by David Lebovitz for Cherries in Red Wine Syrup.

My cooking has been somewhat sporadic and a bit frenetic of late. We’ve been out-of-town, had visitors, had lots of picnics and barbeques, even a meal or two out. I want to be outside all the time and am spending more time processing berries than making dinner. This means we’ve had a lot of frittatas, salads and artichokes for dinner lately or anything else I can throw together in minutes so I can get back outside.

Green Couscous from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

I have made two dishes worth noting in the last few days. The first comes from one of my favorite cookbooks Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi that you’ve  heard me rave about here before. It’s called Green Couscous and is a herb-heavy, full flavored dish. If you, or you in combination with your neighbors grow mint, cilantro, tarragon, dill, parsley, and arugula, you might be able to make this salad on a moments notice. The recipe calls for toasted pistachios but I didn’t have any and substituted toasted almonds which worked beautifully. This recipe is not super quick. It has a few more steps than most of my dishes but it’s well worth it.

I know our spring here in the Pacific Northwest was cooler and wetter than others so if you no longer have garlic scapes (tops, whistles) in your neck of the woods just file this away for next year. Garlic scapes are the long, elegant stalks that grow up out of a garlic plant. So while the head of garlic is finishing up its growth underground the plant gives us a fragrant, sweet, tender shoot to work with as well. These scapes make a wonderful pesto so if you have some in your garden or see a bunch at the farmers market or in your CSA box, this is one thing to do with it.

Garlic Scape Pesto. Next to the bowl of pesto you see the very tops of the garlic scapes which hold the flower of the plant. You want to use the scape right up to this part but I typically don't include the immature flower in the pesto but come to think of it I'm not sure why. . . .

Garlic Scape Pesto

1 bunch (about 7-8) garlic scapes

generous handful of toasted (or raw) walnuts

1-2 ounces parmesan or Asiago stella

3/4 cup (or more) basil leaves

1/3 cups of good-tasting extra virgin olive oil

salt, pepper

Roughly chop the garlic scapes, with our without the very top, flower part (See note in caption above). Process the nuts and cheese in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve on toasted bread, with pasta, potatoes, eggs dishes other grains. . . .

Happy Cooking and Eating!

P.S. Two spots left in my August Eat Better Series. Save money, eat well, fewer trips to the store and more fun in the kitchen . . .

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nice! I’ve got scapes and cherries and need to do something with the cherries before they go bad. Yes, go bad. I don’t eat them, thinking I have to save them. For what? Exactly.

    I love this compote recipe. Do you put it over ice cream or just eat it as is?

    I’ve had my scapes in a vase of water and just keep snipping bits of them and using them in salads or omelettes. They seem to last forever!

    I heard about steeping the cherry pits in balsamic vinegar for a woody/cherry flavor. I’m not sure how long it takes but I like the idea of using the pits for something! Have you ever heard of this?

    July 12, 2011
    • I do the same thing Jane,. . . .the saving thing, that is! I use the cherries on yogurt, ice cream with panna cotta or just by the spoonful! it is pretty rich though. Good on poundcake and that sort of thing too. Or mix some into a fresh fruit salad. I haven’t heard of the cherry pit idea but it sounds intriguing.

      July 12, 2011
  2. Mommy #

    Nice photo!!! Chuckles and smiles from Granny! When you’re talking to your foodie, gardenie friends find out why garlic plants sometimes don’t “scape” as in the case of mine this year.


    July 12, 2011
  3. Gail #

    Funny; I am catching up on your blog while eating lunch, which is the very same couscous salad pictured here. Delicious! I have taken to adding currants, and a poached or fried egg on top would be fantastic.

    July 28, 2011
  4. I’ve been chopping the whole scape into my meals lately, flower and all, and they’ve turned out delicious. I did it because I wasn’t how I was ‘supposed’ to prepare it, but now I know it’s great!

    June 17, 2012

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