It is No-Cook Week at Food Network and my contribution pairs fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes with Buffalo mozzarella and spicy pesto made with basil and garlic scapes. I know we just had Pesto Week a couple of weeks ago, but this version...classic pesto combined with garlic scapes...is so delicious I couldn't wait to share.
Garlic scapes are a soon-to-flower stalk that grows at the top of the garlic plant from between the leaves. These "flowers" have to be cut off to ensure the bulb receives the necessary energy required to grow the garlic we know and love. This process is sort of like pinching the flowers off herb plants to aid in their growth. I love the clean, organic look of scapes. They curl into very interesting shapes and make lovely casual floral arrangements that I use for a day or two prior to turning into a delicious treat.
Many people discard the garlic scapes when harvesting. If you grow garlic, do not let this happen. They are an amazingly tasty vegetable that can be used wherever you use garlic, green onions or chives. They taste like a milder version of fresh garlic with a bit less bite while still retaining tons of flavor. They can be chopped up and added to stir-fry, frittata, pasta or sautéed and added as a topping for pizza or bruschetta. You will find many ways to use, but today they are being processed into pesto.
Tomato & Mozzarella Sandwich with Basil-Garlic Scape Pesto
(make as many sandwiches as you like)
In-Season heirloom tomatoes. sliced
Buffalo mozzarella, sliced 1/2 inch thick
Basil-Garlic Scape Pesto, recipe follows
Artisan bread, any kind, thickly sliced
For each sandwich, spread pesto on one slice of bread. Top with tomatoes, and cheese and second slice of bread. Cut in half and enjoy!
For non "no-cook" weeks, this sandwich is delicious grilled or placed in a panini press.
Basil-Garlic Scape Pesto
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 oz parmigiano-reggiano cheese, cut into 2 pieces
3 garlic scapes
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
5 cups basil leaves (packed)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional to top
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juicesea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
Toast pine nuts in a skillet until just beginning to brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Add cheese to a food processor fitted with the chopping/mixing blade. Process until the cheese is grated. Add cooled pine nuts, garlic scapes and red pepper flakes and process until all ingredients are finely grated. Add half of basil leaves, and 1/4 cup olive oil and process until smooth but with a bit of texture. Add remaining basil, remaining olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Process until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
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