2:02 PM EDT, June 17, 2014
Be wary of roadside vendors peddling "local" sweet corn this time of year. Though days are long and the temperature is climbing, it's still (way) too early for corn and other summer favorites. I get it though—a particle board sign that reads "Sweet Corn" is far more likely to turn heads than "Fresh Kohlrabi . . . anybody?" But as we look ahead to heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant, let us be mindful of the early summer harvest. Let's embrace radishes, sugar snap peas, and garlic scapes—after all, they're only around once a year.
Farmers markets and CSA programs help one to appreciate eating seasonally. This summer, find a farmer (or farmers) you trust and attempt to live off the Chesapeake Bay Watershed's fertile soil. Regional farms run the gamut from pesticide-free to conventionally grown, so you'll have no trouble finding growers that share your philosophy on food production. If you want to know more, ask questions. Farmers are happy to discuss their crops—it's their life's work.
This edition's recipe focuses solely on the underappreciated garlic scape. Scapes themselves are the stems of young garlic plants, harvested while still tender. Scapes possess the sweetness and aroma of a spring onion and the crisp snap of a green bean. John Dove of Love Dove Farms tells me that by harvesting the stem of the garlic plant, more energy can be allocated to the actual bulb. So by eating the delicious scapes, we're actually doing garlic a delicious favor. Everybody wins thanks to nature's beautiful balance. You're unlikely to encounter scapes in the brightly lit aisles of the supermarket, so I encourage you to peruse a local farmers market for this early summertime staple.
Popular applications include pickled scapes or scape pesto, but I prefer the more straightforward approach of searing scapes in hot butter. This way, scapes are the subject of your undivided attention. Simply seasoned and prepared, they have no outside flavors to distract your palette. One thing to remember: Successfully searing scapes is contingent upon charring the skin of the scape, so make sure your pan is hot.
Heat butter in a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat.
In the meantime, trim the tops of the garlic scapes. If you rinse the scapes, make sure they are bone-dry before cooking.
Cut the scapes into green bean-sized segments.
As soon as the butter begins to brown in the pan, add the scapes. Let the skin begin to blister before disturbing.
Stir occasionally. Cook for about 5 minutes or until all sides are brown.
Remove from the pan and sprinkle with salt. Serve with grilled meat.
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