Veggie Might: Market Finds - Green Garlic and Garlic Scapes Pesto

Written by the fabulous Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about all things Vegetarian.

New York City has a farmer’s market network that reminds me of an urban library system. The Union Square Greenmarket is the main library—the big one with the lions out front, where you can find everything but can be overwhelmed by choice. Then there are neighborhood branches scattered throughout the five boroughs that get less glory, but provide amazing service to the local communities.

My neighborhood market is perfect: between five and eight vendors, just enough variety to keep things interesting but never overwhelming, and prices that are competitive with—often cheaper than—the local groceries. For the most part, the farmers who frequent my local branch keep it simple—nothing too out of the ordinary. If I want wacky veg, I go to Union Square.

But every now and then, I get a surprise.

My last few visits I’ve been a skosh obsessed with something I’d never seen or tried before: green garlic. When I approached the table last Wednesday, I thought the giant green stalks with white bulbs were spring onions. That’s not what the sign said, so I asked the farmer. “Nope, green garlic,” he said with the slightest of smiles.

“How do you use it?” I asked. I’d already decided to buy it—might as well get the skinny from the source.

“Just like you would regular clove garlic, though you don’t have to smash this. Just slice it and eat it. It’s milder and sweeter than regular garlic.”

“Can you eat the stalks?”

“Yeah, but you’ll want to cook them—maybe sauté them like scallions.”

Brilliant. I love discovering new vegetables. That night I made green garlic mashed potatoes to raves. While prepping dinner, CB and I each tried a piece of it raw. It was strong at first bite, like garlic would be, but immediately became milder, though I don’t know if I would call it sweet. CB claimed, as I suspected he would, “Yeah, I could eat this like fruit.” Dude loves garlic.

I started putting green garlic in everything—eggs, stir-fry, salad, sandwiches—sautéing the stalks as instructed. As my obsession grew, my supply dwindled. Saturday, I went back and, to my great joy, found more green garlic and, this time, garlic scapes.

So pleased I was with my score, I practically danced all the way to brunch, demanding my fellow diners to “smell this—it looks like an onion, but you use it like garlic!” and “check it, scapes! They’re the shoots from garlic before it’s harvested!” I’m so much fun.

Taking inspiration from dearest A’s garlic scape exploits, an amazing black bean salad recipe from 101 Cookbooks that darling S made for me last summer, and the fact that I’ve read, like 15 pesto recipes in the past week, I created what might be the greatest dressing for bean salad ever in the history of bean salad: Green Garlic and Scapes Pesto.

Pesto means “to pound” or “crush”, as with a mortal and pestle. Most people know the classic Genoese pesto (basil, garlic, salt), but you can make pesto from any herb crushed with garlic and salt; in days gone by I’ve made pesto from cilantro, arugula, and stinging nettles.

Green Garlic and Scapes Pesto is my masterpiece. It is easily one of the best things I’ve eaten in a long time. Light enough to be a salad dressing, it would also easily stand up to pasta.

I tossed the pesto over 3 cups of black beans and served it on a bed of arugula. It was amazing—tangy, spicy, and garlicky but not overwhelmingly so. For as long as green garlic and scapes are available at my neighborhood market, this dish will be in heavy circulation.


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Black Bean Salad with Green Garlic and Scapes Pesto
Serves 6

1 bulb green garlic (white part only), chopped
1/4 cup garlic scapes, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
3 dried red chilies, chopped (or 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes)
2 tbsp almonds, chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp sea salt

3 cup black beans, cooked (or 2 15 oz cans)
6 cups arugula or salad greens of your choice

Note: I used a food processor to make the pesto. If you have a mortal and pestle, I salute you.

1) Rinse, soak (3 hours or up to overnight), and cook (about 45 minutes) 1/2 cup of dried black beans, which will result in about 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans. - OR - Open a couple of cans of black beans, rinse well, and set aside.

2) Haul out the food processor. Coarsely chop all vegetables and nuts before putting them into the food processor.

3) Whiz together green garlic, scapes, parsley, red chilies, almonds, lime juice, olive oil, agave nectar, and salt until fully combined and the desired smoothness is achieved.

4) Toss together with black beans.

5) Serve on a bed of arugula or any salad green of your choice.

6) Text, email, facespace, tweet, or call everyone you know and tell them how fabulous your dinner is.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price per Serving
147 calories, 9.3g fat, 2.2g fiber, 2.7g protein, $.63

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans: 330 calories, 3g fat, 7.5g fiber, 7.5g protein, $.35
1 bulb green garlic: 4.2 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $.30
1/4 cup garlic scapes: 8 calories, 0g fat, .75g fiber, .5g protein, $.32
1 tbsp fresh parsley: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, $.02
3 dried red chilies: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, $.02
2 tbsp almonds: 104 calories, 10g fat, 2g fiber, 4g protein, $.34
2 tbsp lime juice: 9.5 calories, .03g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $.10
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil: 360 calories, 42g fat 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.24
1/2 tbsp agave nectar: 30 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein $.08
1/2 tsp sea salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, $.02
6 cups arugula: 37 calories, 1g fat, 3g fiber, 4g protein, $2.00
Totals: 882.7 calories, 56g fat, 13.3g fiber, 16g protein, $3.79
Per Serving (totals/6): 147 calories, 9.3g fat, 2.2g fiber, 2.7g protein, $.63