Garlic Scape and Fresh Pea Pesto: In which I make a summery dish…

Garlic scapes

It’s scape week at B&G! Like Shark Week without terrifying sea dwelling man eating beasts. It’s also been a very busy couple of weeks around here, you see, readers, I am in love. I’ve only known him six days, and there is a fair amount of competition for his affection, but I think this could be going places…welcome to the world Baby L.

Scapes are a treat. If you’ve never had them, they are the flowering stalk of the hard neck garlic bulb plant. Obvs. They sprout in the spring out of the top of the garlic bulb, and when the top starts to curl, it’s harvest time. That up there is about a half pound of them. About three dollars worth. So far I’ve used them for a lovely garlic scape and fresh pea pesto, a shrimp and garlic scape fried rice, and a garlic scape compound butter, and they are still kicking. They go a long way. Scapes taste like a mellow garlic. They have that nice garlic flavor without the kick and the bad breath. Perfect, really.

When you look up scapes on the webs, you can’t get very far without someone raving about pesto, so I figured I would do that, but I wanted to add my own twist. And then I found peas.


They had English shell peas at the farmers’ market. These are basically frozen peas in their just picked form, and I thought they would add some nice sweetness to the pesto.

The rest of the ingredients were pretty traditional. Toasted pine nuts, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and voila, a pesto was born.

look at all that green!

I very quickly blanched the peas and roughly chopped the scapes, and through them in the food processor with some lightly toasted pine nuts, and then added salt, pepper and a generous dose of grated parmesan and let the processor do its work.

almost there

Then, with the processor running, I added the olive oil, and a sauce was born.

garlic scape and fresh pea pesto

I love the color of this. It is so bright and happy.

I had it the first night with a buttery fried egg, and I loved that addition, but I had it the next day room temperature for lunch at work. Nothing fancy, just right out of the plastic container, and I will tell you what, it was even better. The scapes had a chance to mellow just a little bit and the sweetness of the peas was more pronounced and it was awesome. If you have a farmers’ market or a whole foods near you, take a look for garlic scapes and fresh shell peas, though I suspect frozen would work in a pinch.

summer's best work

And this is not only a pasta sauce. It would be great on crostini or as a sandwich spread, or with grilled fish or chicken or even beef. Why limit yourself? Also, a fantastic thing to make if you don’t have air conditioning and just walking in the front door of the apartment makes you sweat.

Music recommendation for the week: Rihanna. For serious. I love her.

Live like it’s Scape Week.

Garlic Scape and Fresh Pea Pesto (makes approx. 1.5 cups, enough for one pound of dried pasta)

3/4 cup fresh peas (from about 3/4 lb fresh English shell peas)

generous half cup roughly chopped garlic scapes (approx. 8-9 scapes)

2 tbl pine nuts, lightly toasted (if you love nuts, feel free to up this to 3 tbls. I’m betting it will still be delicious!)

1 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for serving

1/3 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 lb dried linguine

Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water. In the mean time, lightly toast the pine nuts and set aside.

Heat a small saucepan over medium high heat to a high simmer/low boil. Add a pinch of salt and the peas, and cook for barely 30 seconds. Drain peas and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Add the peas, the garlic scapes and the pine nuts to the bowl of the food processor with a pinch of salt and a few twists of fresh pepper. Pulse the processor until the ingredients are roughly chopped. Add the cheese and turn the processor on. Pour the oil through the pour spout slowly, while the processor is running, until the pesto is an almost creamy looking sauce (this will just take a minute.) Toss with the drained pasta, and let cool. This is best served room temperature. If so inclined, fry an egg sunny side in butter and serve over the pasta with additional parmesan, salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy leftovers as much if not more!

Spicy Sesame Noodles with Chicken…and rambling

Oh man, I’m sorry these things take me so long, you must be sick of me making excuses, so you know what? I’m not going to anymore. To quote 50 Cent “my s(tuff)* coming out WHEN I FEEL LIKE IT.” (*He did not say “stuff.”) Fiddy’s my new guru of life. Did you know he’s writing a Young Adult novel about bullying? There are so many things wrong with that sentence, and yet, it’s totally true.

And since we’re talking about books, you guys, I am in the nerdiest pickle right now. Everything I am reading is SO FREAKIN GOOD that I can’t decide what to read at any given moment and I am pretty much paralyzed with the inability to choose and I am accomplishing nothing. Seriously. It’s a problem. I can’t get anything done (for instance, the bulk of this post is already written, by hand, in a notebook, can I type it up? No I cannot) because I have to spend so much time reading because I can’t just pick one thing. Nerd. Alert. The New Yorker is amazing, and I am reading “Blood Bones and Butter” by Gabrielle Hamilton and apparently she cooks better than she writes which is unreal and seems impossible because the book is crazy good, plus! I was in my friendly neighborhood Borders the other day (is anyone else a member of Borders rewards? I got an e-mail the other day saying I had $10 in Borders Bucks to spend before the end of the month, so I better get on in there. And it worked! I actually had $10 that I could use on anything! How did I get that?) and I saw THIS.

Because I need something else to subscribe to

Oh my gosh you guys, David Chang, my chef/celebrity crush (does anyone know him? Can I meet him? Can I get a reservation to his restaurants? I have to go to NY obvs, but I will do that. I will go and spend an entire weekend eating at only his restaurants and I think I would be crazy happy with that. Anyone want to join me?) HAS A MAGAZINE. And it is published by McSweeney’s so it is awesome on top of awesome. It is apparently a going to be a quarterly (this is the first issue) and there are no advertisements and all sorts of great people contribute to it and OH MY GOD. Each issue is going to have a different theme and this one is Ramen and did you know you can write an entire amazing magazine with Ramen as your theme? There are a few diversions, but there are recipes! And so much Chang! And it was exactly $10 so it was also FREE! My head is going to explode.

OK, and one more thing, real quick, since we’re talking about books. I love my Kindle. Love. So psyched to be headed off to vacation with my little Kindle loaded with about six unread books and four back issues of the New Yorker, because you know I would have not been able to choose and would have brought all of those with me in book and magazine form if they weren’t on my Kindle, but books! Oh my gosh, please people, keep buying books so they don’t disappear. They’re so pretty and creative and I just love being around them. I am currently obsessed with finding all the books I read and loved when I was little and hoping they are still somewhere in my parents’ house. Because I would read the heck out of them again. My parents were not in to the television when we were little (for us, they totally watched) because it rots your brain and also because there were all sorts of inappropriate things on there that they wanted to avoid us seeing. But books, we could read as much as we wanted and we could read ANYTHING we wanted. The logic being, even if you are reading the words on the page your imagination and experiences filter what you are reading, which I think is totally true. Case in point. I read Clan of the Cave Bear the summer between 5th and 6th grade. I may be wrong but I am fairly certain that would be (or is?) totally a rated R movie and there was no way I would have been watching that. But, what I remember of it is sitting during swim period at the day camp that I went to with a friend who also read a ton and reading the sex parts to each other and laughing and laughing and laughing. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that first sex part? Forcible and NOT at all funny, but since I had no concept of that, I totally missed it. I forget where this was going, but anyway, books are awesome. And if you didn’t read Christopher Pike or VC Andrews or any of the Clan of the Cave Bear series you totally should. (I had some some intriguing taste in books. Like, A Wrinkle in time was not murder-y or warped love triangle-y enough for me or something? Geez. I wonder what a therapist would say. Also, I think I need to read all of these books again. They were so good! I really should get a therapist.) Another interesting note, I still can not watch scary movies. Scream? Never saw it. I mean, that was basically a Christopher Pike novel, of which I read every single one, but forget the movie. I’d still be terrified. Same with Silence of the Lambs. Read it in like seventh grade maybe? I read the mass market paperback that tied in with the movie, which came out in 1991, so seventh grade sounds right. Still have never seen the movie. I think I would like to? I’ve thought about it. But not by myself. Seriously, I have no idea where this is going. We’ll talk about food now?

Sorry. There is also a caveat before I actually get started with this recipe…I’m calling this a weeknight chicken recipe, but it’s probably not really a weeknight chicken recipe exactly, since I would say that noodles are the main event here, but! it is definitely for weeknights, and it definitely has chicken in it, so I’m counting it. It’s also too good not to share immediately.

Spicy Sesame Noodles with Chicken

This is a recipe courtesy of my mom…she didn’t make it up, but she used to make it all the time, and has no recollection of where it originally came from, so she wins by default. Cold Sesame Noodles is the name of this game. Tahini, sesame oil, soy sauce, sambal, garlic, scallions, red wine vinegar and oil, and then a bit of water to thin it out, and that’s it. There are a lot of recipes for Cold Sesame Noodles online, and many or most of them have peanut butter and sugar in them. The pb I sort of get, but these aren’t peanut noodles, they are sesame noodles, and this recipe relies solely on sesame paste. The sugar I don’t totally get, but like I said, very common, so maybe I’ll try one of those recipes at some point and compare.

I enjoyed this for dinner and several lunches as the main event, but it may be intended as a side dish, which is how my mom usually served it. But what it is really perfect for is a picnic, a potluck, a bar-b-q or whatever because you can make it ahead of time and it really is better cold. The first night I made it I couldn’t wait, so I had some that night when it was still warm, but they really, truly are better cold.

The process is easy. Poach some chicken and then use the very same water to boil some linguine. While those things are happening, chop some scallions and mix up a quick dressing, and that is it. Shred the chicken and mix it all together and voila, dinner or covered dish or side or on the go food (I packed these in containers for my sibs for our road trip last week. I was mocked for the chinese food containers I used, but they put a sock in it when they started eating.) This is great for the summer because it is minimal work and best enjoyed cold. I am probably going to make some more this week because it is stifling in my apartment. Cold food is good.

One more thing, I made a serious omission in my last post when I was mentioning blogs. I forgot to tell you about this one. Healthy Adventures with Adrienne Martin. Adrienne is a gorgeous funny awesome lady that I used to work with at the restaurant, and she has a cute husband and two cute girls and I want to be as cool as her when I grow up. She is very devoted to encouraging people to live their best life and doing the same herself and I suspect if anyone ever is going to convince me to put kale in a blender and drink it, it will be her. She has an exciting new project coming up that I can’t wait to see. Also, without her encouragement, I am not sure B&G would exist. Good luck Adrienne!

Also, really the last thing, listen to Vampire Weekend when you get a chance. I love them and they make me smile and they seem perfect for the summer.

Spicy Sesame Noodles with Chicken (serves 4ish…depending on size of appetite and how you are serving it. I got four dinner/lunches out of it for me. My brother might get one out of this amount. Maybe two if he was feeling generous.)

1 large boneless chicken breast

1/2 lb dried linguine

1 tsp plus 1 tbl sesame oil

1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)

3 tbls water (or to desired consistency)

2 tsp sambal oelek (or chile oil, sambal has a bit more heat-you will probably be able to find it in a grocery store with a decent ethnic food section, you will definitely be able to find it in an Asian grocery. If you can not. Use chile oil, which you will be able to find. Totally interchangeable here.)

3 tbl soy sauce

2 tbl red wine vinegar

1/4 cup peanut or canola oil

2 tbl minced garlic (mince pretty fine, it stays raw in the final dish)

3 scallions, chopped

Bring chicken breast to boil in a large pot of water over high heat. When water boils, turn the heat off and let the chicken sit for 10-15 minutes until cooked through and then remove from the water. Bring the water to boil again and salt it well. Cook pasta until al dente, and then drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Add the pasta back to the cooking pot, toss with 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil, and set aside.

In the meantime, mix the remaining ingredients, with the exception of the scallions, together with enough of the water to make a runny, but still fairly thick, dressing and set aside. When the chicken is cool enough to touch, shred it and add it, with the chopped scallions, to the pasta pot. Pour the dressing over and toss to combine. Let the pasta cool and serve cold or at room temperature with a sprinkling of kosher salt. Leftovers improve.