So, in an attempt to do my bit for the resistance against the intimidating onslaught of our CSA veggie bounty, I decided it should fall upon me to do something with the garlic scapes. I'd never even heard of garlic scapes until recently so I hadn't the first idea what to do with them. They looked a bit like spring onions that had been attacked by a crazed, curling-tong-wielding, veg-hating hairdresser. Thrusting that rather disturbing thought forcefully aside I did a bit of googling and came up with a very promising-sounding pasta dish - an adaptation of a recipe by Chef Dante Boccuzzi of Aureole, right here in New York. I made a few very minor adjustments to the recipe: obviously I scaled it down for two people rather than four, used about a half tablespoon of truffle oil (thanks Pasticerra!) instead of the truffle butter and I used a little more stock than Mr. Boccuzzi recommends. I also used crimini mushrooms (because that's what we had), and ziti instead of orzo. Other than that, I didn't mess with what turned out to be sheer pasta perfection.
Garlic Scape and Mushroom Pasta
1 medium onion, diced
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
6 ounces chicken stock
1/2 pound pasta (orecchietti or similar)
About 6 oz assorted mushrooms
3 garlic scapes (trim off the 'flower' at the end and chop the remainder into half-inch pieces)
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp heavy cream, whisked until slightly thickened
1/2 tbsp truffle oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus shavings
A slack handful of arugula
Over low heat, gently cook the onion in half of the olive oil, until it's tender. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat the stock in another pan. Add the pasta to the onions and mix thoroughly. Gradually add the stock to the pasta, cover and cook at a low simmer, Stir fairly frequently to make sure it cooks evenly. It takes about 15-20 minutes, but check it to be sure.
In a large skillet heat the remaining olive oil and sear the mushrooms and garlic scapes until golden brown. Add the butter and keep stirring until it browns a bit, then strain the mushrooms and scapes; set aside and keep warm.
Drizzle the truffle oil over the pasta, add the grated parmesan and the arugula. Give it a stir until the arugula just starts to wilt. Stir in the cream just before serving. Serve the pasta and top with the mushroom and scapes. Garnish with a few shavings of parmesan.
This method of cooking the pasta (absorption) was new to me. It involves using much less liquid than the old immerse-in-water-and-boil routine. The idea is to simmer slowly and let the flavours of the stock and other ingredients infuse the pasta. I have to say, it works. I gave the pasta almost twenty minutes, stirred it often, and it was not only beautifully al dente but also much tastier than pasta cooked in the normal way. As for those scapes, what a delightfully subtle flavour! The texture was somewhat like a more yielding asparagus but the taste... just a hint of garlic and a very slight saltiness which combined really well with the earthy mushrooms, the bitter arugula, the onion and the salty parmesan. And then the smooth (but not cloying) mouth feel provided by the butter, oil and cream made the whole effect a smooth, savoury joy. Ann and I both agreed this dish was a major hit, and we shall be doing it for as long as the CSA keep giving us these delicious, curly little stalks of delight.