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Scapes lend unusual flavor to pesto

By J.M. Hirsch
AP Food Editor
Next visit to the farmers market, look for an item that resembles a garter snake crossed with a scallion.
They are called scapes, and they are the green shoots that grow out of garlic bulbs. Most growers chop them off (done to promote better growth of the bulbs), and they recently have become the darling of the gourmet set.
These long, spirally greens are showing up at a growing number of farmers markets and can be a fast and easy way to add tremendous flavor (and a healthy dose of greens) to your meal.
The easiest way to prepare them is to toss them with olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper, then put them on the grill for a few minutes, or until lightly browned and just tender.
They also can be sauteed with olive oil and garlic until wilted, then tossed with pasta and cooked chicken, or pureed into a thick soup, such as potato or squash.
However you use them, be prepared for a heavy hit of garlic. Garlic scapes have an in-your-face pungency.
This recipe for pesto uses the scapes raw, blending them with roasted cashews and goat cheese. This same blend also is good as a sandwich spread (minus the pasta cooking water) or as a dip (add a little sour cream).
If you find the taste of raw scapes a bit bracing, you can take the edge off by blanching them in boiling water for about a minute. The scapes then should be dunked in ice water and dried before being added to the pesto.
FETTUCCINE WITH GARLIC SCAPE PESTO
Start to finish: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
4 ounces garlic scapes, cut into 1- to 2-inch lengths (about 1 1/2 cups cut)
3 ounces goat cheese (about three-quarters of a 4-ounce log)
1/2 cup roasted cashews (not salted)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
9 ounces fresh pasta (such as fettuccine)
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil.
While the water heats, in a food processor combine the scapes, cheese, cashews, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until mostly smooth and the scapes are well chopped.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cooking according to package directions. Just before the pasta is cooked, ladle out about 1/3 cup of the water. Add the water to the processor and pulse until well mixed.
Drain the pasta, then return it to the pan. Add the pesto and toss well to coat.
Nutrition information per serving: 414 calories; 194 calories from fat; 22 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 48 mg cholesterol; 43 g carbohydrate; 15 g protein; 2 g fiber; 816 mg sodium.
EDITOR’S NOTE: J.M. Hirsch can be e-mailed at jhirsch(at)ap.org.

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