The best part about summer in Chicago is the abundance of farmers markets that litter our city each and every day. As a matter of fact, here is where you can find a market on any given day: http://www.explorechicago.org/city/en/supporting_narrative/events___special_events/special_events/mose/chicago_farmers_markets.html/. Last week, I went to the Andersonville Night Market on Wednesday. River Valley Ranch was there showing off their mushroom varietals. They have a pretty cool story and you can find out more about them here: https://www.rivervalleykitchens.com/ . What I find most interesting about River Valley Ranch is that they are family owned and operated, and the Rose family also owned restaurants in Chicago in the 50’s and 60’s. I think I will need to take a trip to their ranch and market this summer! In any case, beyond their mushrooms, mushroom sauces and spreads, they had scapes! For those that don’t know, scapes are long flowering stems that grow from the bulb of garlic. They are cut before they flower and often used in cooking. Be warned: Scapes are seriously pungent…almost spicy. If you are a garlic lover, these are for you. River Valley Ranch makes a scape spread..similar to a pesto…and they had some out to sample. It was divine! I asked a very kind woman whose name I forgot ( I suck..but in all fairness I did try to email to get her name…UPDATE: Thanks Juliann!! We caught her at the Sunday Glenwood Market) about the scape pesto recipe of which she shared. The following day, I tried making my own scape pesto. I played around with the ingredients and learned a few things.:
First, you need to cut the scape where it is beginning to flower. Throw the flower away and cook with the left over stem.
Second, if you bite a scape raw (I had to) it is seriously pungent. I don’t recommend.
Third, based on my conversation at the market and my own intuition I processed 9 scapes, 3/4 cup grated parm, lemon, basil, salt, olive oil, and pine nuts. What I got was a pesto that was super garlicky. Way too much for me, and I love garlic. Through some research (re: Google “What to do when scape spread is too garlicky”) I found out that if you heat the spread, it can reduce the pungency of the scapes. That makes sense. Like roasting garlic eventually makes the garlic sweet not spicy. I mixed the pesto into some warm pasta that just came out of the water and alas! The pesto was on point…still garlicky, but manageable.
Last, you can decide how to make your own pesto. Next time, I will try pecorino and less scapes.
Here are some pics of my venture into scape pesto. Enjoy!