Search results for 'garlic scape'

Food Find: Garlic Scape Powder

24 Feb

Last summer Neil and I were introduced to garlic scapes for the first time ever. We had unexpectedly gotten a bunch through an organic produce delivery service and we experimented with a few different ways of cooking with them.

And just as soon as we had fallen in love with the gorgeously green and deliciously mild stalks, the season was over and they disappeared.

So, you can imagine our delight when right smack in the middle of winter (far from garlic scape season) we stumbled upon organic garlic scape powder from Ontario-based Chef Organics at our favorite spice store in Toronto, The Spice Trader.

We had gone into the store to stock up on some of our favorite cupboard must-haves but as always, owner Allison Johnston offered up some amazing tips on new products and what to do with them. She asked us if we had ever tasted garlic scape powder and our eyes popped. She told us we had to try it, saying it was delicious added into just about anything or even just sprinkled into olive oil and used as a dip for bread.

She was right. Since then, I’ve been sprinkling garlic scape powder into everything from mashed parsnips to soups and salad dressings.

Garlic scapes themselves have a milder flavor than garlic cloves and the powder has a bit of a sweetness to it that’s really wonderful. Chef Organics describes the taste as having a slight hint of onion. It smells amazing, it tastes great and it’s a good way to keep garlic scapes in your cooking repertoire throughout the year.

I decided to whip up a quick garlic scape hummus and I loved how pretty it looked with a bit of powder sprinkled on top.

If you’ve never made hummus at home before, you won’t believe how easy it is. This recipe can be made with regular garlic powder of course, but if you can get your hands on some garlic scape powder, definitely give it a try. You’ll notice such a pleasant difference in the taste.

Garlic Scape Hummus

1 small can chickpeas, drained

1 Tbsp tahini

Juice of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp garlic scape powder (or to taste) plus extra for sprinkling on top

Good quality olive oil

Sea salt

In a food processor, add the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic scape powder. Turn the food processor on and slowly add in olive oil until you get a consistency that you like. The longer you let it go, the smoother and fluffier the hummus will be. Season with sea salt.

I like to serve hummus drizzled with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkled with some garlic scape powder on top.

Freezing Summer with Garlic Scape Pesto

20 Aug

garlic scapes

As a wedding gift, one of our good friends signed us up to receive organic produce box deliveries from Mama Earth Organics. It’s been great over the spring and summer months, as once a week we receive a box full of fresh, mostly local fruits and vegetables. While we’ve received our share of carrots, tomatoes, lettuce and other familiar items, the service has also introduced us to some things we might not have otherwise tried – garlic scapes, for one.

Garlic scapes are the green stalks that grow out of the heads of hardneck garlic. They are removed early in the growing season to ensure nutrients are focused toward the garlic bulbs, allowing them to grow larger. They’re also edible. Raw scapes have a flavour that isn’t as overpowering as raw garlic, and the flavour becomes even milder when the scapes are cooked. Jenny and I got garlic scapes in a few of our basket deliveries this summer, and an earlier post I wrote talked about the first recipe I used them in.

Of course, now that I’ve got all you fellow garlic scape virgins excited about trying them, I should add that since the scapes are harvested early in the garlic growing season, they’re difficult if not downright impossible to track down at this point in the summer. Nonetheless, I’m going to fill you in on what I decided to do with the growing collection of garlic scapes I had in my fridge a couple weeks ago. Not wanting to let the garlic scapes go to waste but realizing there was no way we could consume them all before they went bad, I decided that garlic scape pesto was in order. The great thing about pesto is that you can combine a bunch of herbs and other tasty things together, blend it up, and then freeze or jar the results to use even after growing season ends.

Google “garlic scape pesto” and hundreds of useful recipes come up, including this one from food writer Dorie Greenspan which served as my blueprint. While Dorie’s recipe called for almonds, I decided to go nut-free. I also decided to add some basil, since the plant we received in an earlier Mama Earth Organics delivery had yielded some leaves begging to be used.

I was impressed with the results of this recipe, though garlic scape newbies should note that the garlic scape flavour of this pesto, while more nuanced than straight raw garlic, is still pretty strong. In hindsight, the next time I make a batch of garlic scape pesto I might throw in a couple handfuls of raw spinach or arugula, to balance the flavour a bit more.

garlic scape pesto

Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe:

10-12 garlic scapes, chopped into small pieces
1/3 cup of parmesan cheese
A handful of chopped basil leaves (a cup or two should be fine)
1/2 cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Add chopped garlic scapes and basil leaves, parmesan, a bit of salt and pepper, and half the olive oil to a food processor. Blend until scapes are finely chopped, then stop the machine and taste. Add more salt or pepper if needed, and more olive oil if you’d prefer a smoother texture. Blend again, and you’re done.

I let the pesto sit in my fridge for a day, then decided to freeze it for two reasons 1) it keeps longer, and 2) the smell of the pesto in my fridge was proving a tad overpowering. To freeze, I simply fill an ice cube tray with pesto, let it freeze overnight, then popped out the cubes into a tupperware to put back into my freezer. I can now use the frozen cubes quickly and easily in pasta sauces over the coming months, as I did in the quick pasta shown below.

pasta with chicken and pesto

We threw this together by sauteeing some chopped chicken breast, and adding in two of the frozen pesto cubes, chopped yellow pepper, grape tomatoes, arugula, a couple spoonfuls of ricotta and some lemon zest. It was quick and easy, and the sharpness of the garlic scape pesto was nicely balanced out by the other ingredients.

Supporting Summer’s Bounty, and Those Who Grow It

10 Jul

pork chops summer dinner

It’s certainly taken a while to settle in, but we can finally say for certain that summer is here to stay for a while. Sunny skies and hot temperatures are an almost daily fact of life, and summer hours have kicked in for both Jenny and I at work, which means we (sometimes) get to leave the office early on Fridays to enjoy the season.

But the main reason I know summer is in full bloom is that farmer’s markets are teeming with amazing, fresh produce. I’ve written several times about the fact that one of the things I love most about living in southern Ontario is that we’re only an hour or so away from countless farms that produce a mind-blowing selection of fruits, vegetables, fresh meats and dairy. And in Toronto, we take advantage of this by hosting farmer’s markets in all corners of the city. One of our favorites is the Evergreen Brickworks Farmer’s Market, an oasis of farm freshness set in a lush landscape right in the middle of the city. Walking around farmer’s markets like this on a Saturday morning, looking at and smelling produce often picked just that morning and interacting with the people that actually grew what you’re considering buying really makes you appreciate the fertile land we’re surrounded by and the people who work it.

(As a bit of an aside, some of that land is currently being threatened in southern Ontario. A U.S. company called Highland Companies is currently planning to develop a quarry on farmland in Melancthon, Ont., home of some of the best soil in Canada. If the project is allowed to proceed, a key source of both food and water for residents of Ontario and Canada will be lost. Read more about the project here, and then sign this petition to voice your opposition to the Melancthon quarry.)

On a recent visit, I picked up some garlic scapes, oyster mushrooms and a spicy salad mix, which factored into a simple, flavourful summer meal of grilled pork chops (picked up from The Friendly Butcher on the Danforth) and a salad of sautéed mushrooms and garlic scapes. Here’s how I did it:

Grilled Pork Chops with Balsamic Cherries and Oyster Mushroom Salad

For the pork chops:

I rubbed the pork chops with some rub that Chef Roger Mooking was handing out to patrons at the recent Toronto Taste event; I’m not sure what was in the rub, but it smelled amazing and tasted great on the chops.

pork chops rub

I like grilling pork chops similar to steak, so that they’re cooked just past medium and retain just a little pink in the middle and are juicy. To do this, cook the chops on a BBQ over high heat. Place the chops on the grill and cook with the lid closed for about two minutes. Then turn the chops 45 degrees and cook for another two or three minutes. Then, flip the chops over and cook with the lid closed again for two minutes. Rotate 45 degrees again and cook for another couple of minutes. Remove the chops from the grill and let rest for five to 10 minutes.

For the salad:

Chop oyster mushrooms and garlic scapes into smallish pieces. Throw into a pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper over medium-high heat, sautéing for several minutes until everything starts to soften. Add a couple splashes of balsamic vinegar about half way through cooking. Plate mushrooms and scapes on salad mix and top with a generous splash of good olive oil.

oyster mushrooms and garlic scapes

For the balsamic cherries:

Jenny had picked up a jar of Composta di Amarene all’Aceto Balsamico (sour cherry compote with balsamic) from Eataly in New York City recently. It’s a jarred condiment imported from Italy that’s basically whole cherries preserved in balsamic vinegar. I threw a couple of spoonfuls in a heated pan with some more balsamic vinegar and chilli flakes, and let it simmer away for several minutes until it began to get jam-like and the vinegar reduced. Then I simply spooned this over the pork chops.

If you don’t have preserved cherries from Italy, I’m sure you could easily create a similar condiment with some pitted cherries cooked down in a pan with some balsamic and chilli flakes.

Enjoy summer!

pork chops plate

Carbonara, Real and Re-imagined

22 Jun

Carbonara smoked bacon garlic scapes

Growing up with an Italian background, I’ve developed a passion for the great food my relatives introduced me to throughout my childhood. Generally though, I’m not one who believes that there are rules around Italian food that must be followed at all times… with three exceptions: bruschetta is pronounced “bru-sketta,” sugar doesn’t belong in tomato sauce, and spaghetti carbonara contains no cream. Ever.

While the name carbonara is derived from the Italian for “charcoal burner,” the dish’s origins are a bit murkier. One take is that it was called carbonara simply because the pepper resembled tiny flecks of coal. Another story says carbonara was created by coal miners as a quick meal that was easily prepared at job sites. I personally like this story best – because really, what self-respecting Italian preparing for a long stretch away from home wouldn’t pack some dried pasta and cured pork products?

The beauty of carbonara lies in its simplicity. Ultimately, it’s just pasta, pancetta, eggs and pepper. Beyond that, variations are hotly debated among carbonara purists. Some insist that only spaghetti be used, while others (myself included) say any noodle is fine. Some add onions, some garlic, and others use both. While pancetta is most common, some use guanciale instead. The thing everyone seems to agree on is that if it contains cream (relatively common in restaurants), it’s not carbonara.

I usually stick to the basics when I make my carbonara, while adding onions most of the time for a bit of extra flavour. Of course, I also don’t get to make it for dinner very often – its simplicity means carbonara lacks the protein, vegetables and nutrients that Jenny hopes for in a pasta dish. So as much as I get worked up about “real” carbonara, I’m usually trying to find ways to jazz it up and add a bit of nutritional value so my wife will let me make it. Once in a while I’ll add shrimp, or throw in something green and leafy.

eggs smoked bacon garlic scapes

My carbonara craving last night happened to coincide with a visit to the Brickworks Farmers Market this past weekend, which led me to create a version of the dish that – while still abiding by my central rule of no cream – threw out pretty much every other basic tenet of carbonara creation. I’d picked up some great smoked bacon from a vendor at the market, so in that went in place of pancetta. I also picked up some garlic scapes, which I thought would provide a compromise solution between onions or garlic. And I also added some frozen spinach and served the sauce on spelt noodles in order to add some nutrients and fibre. Whether or not the resulting dish was “true” carbonara is perhaps a matter of debate, but it tasted great and satisfied my craving nicely.

bacon garlic scapes chopped egg

Smoked Bacon and Garlic Scape Carbonara

Smoked bacon (enough to make the dish as bacon-y as your little heart desires)
2 garlic scapes
2 eggs
Spinach (ideally a large handful of fresh, though I used frozen spinach, thawed and drained, because it’s what I had on hand)
A cup or so of freshly grated parmigiano and/or pecorino-romano cheese

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, grated cheese and several turns of fresh ground pepper. Set aside.

Dice bacon into small cubes, and dice garlic scapes.

Prepare pasta according to package directions. While pasta is boiling, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat, and sautee bacon and garlic scapes until both become translucent. Then, turn off the heat.

Before draining pasta, reserve a half cup of the cooking water. Temper the eggs by slowly pouring a few teaspoons of this water into the bowl with your beaten eggs, whisking quickly as you do.

The next couple of steps require some quick work in order to retain the heat in the pasta, which will be used to “cook” the egg:

Toss drained pasta in the pan with the bacon and garlic scapes. Transfer to a large serving bowl, then slowly pour in egg/cheese mixture, tossing the pasta to coat as you pour. The goal is to have the egg sauce heated by the pasta, but to not get so hot that it curdles like scrambled eggs.

Serve in bowls, topped with more grated cheese and fresh ground pepper.


5 Mar

Looking for meal ideas, but don’t have time to read through all of the posts on Communal Table? No problem. Here’s a list of every recipe featured on this site, conveniently sorted by main ingredient or meal type for easy reference.


North African-inspired Chicken Peanut Stew


Seared Sirloin with Caramelized Grapes and Port Sauce
Short Ribs Braised in Chinese Five Spice, Cocoa and Red Wine
Rustic Meatballs with Pine Nuts and Raisins
Homemade Jalapeno Lime Beef Jerky

Fish and Seafood

Seared Fennel-dusted Scallops with Carrot Puree, Ramps and Bok Choy
Salmon Burgers with Tartar Sauce and Romaine Dill Salad
Baked Salmon with Ponzu, Shallots and Lemon Zest
Smoked Salmon on Dilled Potatoes
Panko & Wasabi-Crusted Salmon with Ponzu Soy Reduction
Pan-Seared Halibut with Salsa Verde
Pan-Seared Watermelon with Salmon & Mint Chimichurri
Seared Tuna Wraps with Mango, Asian Slaw & Creamy Sriracha Sauce
Spinach Salad with Pomelo, Seared Scallops & Calamari


Open-Faced Cuban Sandwiches 
Grilled Pork Chops with Balsamic Cherries & Oyster Mushroom Salad


Linguine with Calamari, Lentils and Garlic Scapes
Pasta with Fennel-rubbed Seared Tuna, Broccolini, Garlic and Olive Oil
Ricotta-filled Pasta Pinwheels with Porcini Mushroom Sauce
Smoked Bacon & Garlic Scape Carbonara (plus the recipe for the classic version) 
Simple Cacio e Pepe (aka: Italian “KD”)


Eggs Benedict with Zucchini Latkes and Smoked Paprika Hollandaise
Poached Eggs on Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Asparagus Pesto
Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce

Slow Scrambled Eggs with Leeks, Smoked Salmon and Horseradish Cream
Brie & Strawberry Jam Egg White Omelet


Roasted Tofu and Squash with Steamed Ginger-Lime Kale
Oven-baked Zucchini Blossoms
Watermelon Salad with Feta and Quick Pickled Onions
Garlic Scape Pesto
Mango Salad with Mint and Baked Kale Chips
Quinoa with Fennel, Olive and Citrus
Roasted Butternut Squash with Quinoa Stuffing
Vegan Muffins: One Batter, Four Ways
Garlic Scape Hummus
Strawberry Panzanella Salad
Middle Eastern “Caesar” Salad
Chunky Mashed Celery Root
Fried Rice-Style Quinoa with Grilled Pineapple & Cashews
Moroccan-Spiced Carrots 
Curried Cauliflower & Chickpea Stew with Kale


Bircher Muesli
Maple Cinnamon Tahini Sauce on Waffles
Mushroom & Kale Polenta Hash with Eggs


Olive Oil Ice Cream
Olive Oil Cake
Grilled Pineapple with Tequila-Brown Sugar Glaze and Coconut Yogurt
Coffee Oil Ice Cream with Crushed Amaretti Cookies
Pineapple Lemon and Basil Sorbet
Communal Table’s Tiramisu


The Moogarita: A Cocktail with Beef
Chef Jean-Francois Daigle’s Honey-seared Bison with Apple-Parsnip Puree
Chef Christine Amanatidis’ Duck Breast with Chestnut Bread Pudding

Food Find: Portuguese Style Calamary Stew

29 Jun

Neil and I absolutely love shopping at Fiesta Farms in Toronto. It’s a bit like our foodie Disneyworld. The place is filled with amazing ‘food finds’, so it’s fitting to write my first Food Find post about a product we discovered on our last trip there.

The variety of interesting ethnic foods at Fiesta Farms is amazing. Never would have I imagined that the canned fish section would be so appealing. Actually, when Neil spotted his first tin of ‘Calamary’ stew I think I scoffed at the thought and told him to put it back. But the adventurous food-lover in him pressed on and I’m so happy he made us buy some because it’s delicious and adds so much to a quick and easy pasta!

We’ve tried two different kinds now, and particularly enjoyed this one. Your initial gut reaction might be “Ew, gross!” but if you’re into food, try it out and you’ll probably be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Here’s a really quick pasta dish we threw together tonight that impressed us both.

Linguine with Portuguese ‘Calamary’, Lentils and Garlic Scapes.

2 garlic scapes, chopped (or 1 garlic clove)

1/2 can of lentils

1 tin of Portuguese style ‘calamary stew’

Frozen spinach, thawed and drained

White wine

A few fresh basil leaves, chopped

Fresh parsley, chopped

Crushed chili flakes (a few pinches)


Sautee the garlic scapes and chili flakes in a bit of olive oil. Add the ‘calamary’ with a bit of the oil/sauce from the tin and sauté. Add in a few splashes of white wine and let it cook off for a few minutes. Add the lentils with some of the lentil liquid, then add the spinach. Let it all amalgamate for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and you can add a bit of water to make it saucy.

Mix in cook pasta (we used linguine) and season again with salt and pepper to taste. Plate the pasta and add a good amount of freshly chopped parsley and a drizzle of good olive oil to finish.

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