I have an affinity for garlic scape pesto that borders on the unnatural. Although I've previously suggested to you that there are at least seven worthwhile things to do with garlic scapes, the truth is that I rarely care to do anything with them myself besides whiz them with nuts, cheese, lemon, and olive oil in a food processor and eat them with a spoon. This inclination may be due to the fact that, in my heart of hearts, I seem to believe that I invented garlic scape pesto. (It's similar to the way I seem to believe that I invented the food blog, despite substantial late-breaking evidence to the contrary. But those are stories for another time, such as never.)
The more convincing thing that garlic scape pesto has going for it, which many other scapely preparations lack, is that the scapes are raw. When subjected to intense heat, scapes quickly lose their characteristic pungency and transform into a much milder, practically bean-like vegetable. It's not that there's anything wrong with a bean-like vegetable, mind you. It's just that, to me, raw scapes are special largely because they manage to communicate both mild-manneredness and assertiveness at the same time.
Still, there's no question that the optimal amount of garlic is highly contextual and situation-specific. Not every occasion is a garlic scape pesto occasion. For example, if you will be interacting with other people today, interviewing for a promising job tomorrow, or generally not looking forward to the possibility of sweating profusely, it may not be a garlic scape pesto occasion. In such instances, the garlic scape tart may be a more appropriate choice.
This garlic scape tart occupies a happy medium between raw and aggressively cooked scapes. The sliced scapes are baked gently in a custard of fresh ricotta and eggs, mellowing their intensity without obliterating their freshness. Combined with the lemon thyme, the scapes produce a positively aromatic filling that floats on top of the hearty crust.
About the author: Carolyn Cope is the voice behind the popular food blog Umami Girl. In late July, she'll trade the life of a CSA manager in New Jersey for the lively farmers' markets of London. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Teff crust adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine.
- For the Crust
- 1 cup teff flour
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
- For the Filling
- 1 cup thinly sliced garlic scapes (from 15 to 20 scapes with bud ends removed)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup good quality fresh ricotta cheese (bought or homemade)
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon thyme plus 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place the flours and the salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle four tablespoons of the ice water onto the dough. Pulse until the dough begins to hold together. Add the additional tablespoon of water and continue to pulse if the dough is otherwise too dry to hold together. Turn the dough out onto a piece of waxed paper and shape into a disc by pressing quickly and firmly with your hands, repairing any cracks as you go. Wrap the dough in the waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll out the dough into a 12-inch-diameter circle about 1/4-inch thick. Press into the bottom and sides of a fluted 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll your rolling pin over the top of the pan to remove any excess dough. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork, then line the dough with parchment paper and fill with dried beans. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the parchment and beans and bake for 7 minutes more.
While the dough bakes, make the filling. Place the scapes, eggs, ricotta, lemon thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Beat with a fork until well combined. Pour the filling into the partially baked tart shell and return the whole thing to the oven for 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Cool to warm or room temperature before slicing and serving.