Monday, July 11, 2011

Garlic Scape Salsa Verde

I love a good food challenge, and if I had a more stable existence that allowed me to cook for multiple people every night, a CSA-share would be perfect.  I actually signed up for a 6-week one a few years ago which unfortunately coincided with being sent to work in Buffalo for a month.  I remember flying back and forth on the weekends with carry-ons full of beets and radishes, and the effort of trying not to waste anything was rather stressful.

So in lieu of this and more in line with my erratic lifestyle during farmers market season, I like to play a game where I buy something that I'm completely unfamiliar with and figure out how to make something delicious out of it.  And this week's subject was garlic scapes at the bargain price of 8 for a dollar.  You know that little green shoot that happens when your garlic is too old?  If it's growing in say, soil for a few months instead of your pantry, you'll have a garlic scape.  Kind of similar to a skinny, twisty green onion but harder and more pungent.

And when combined with summer herbs and a dose of heat, garlic scapes make a fantastic salsa verde. It's garlicky (but not overly so), it's bright and spicy, it's awesome.  I adapted a recipe from for the love of yum who suggests grilling the stems for 15 minutes to get a nice char beforehand, but I was hungry and lazy and didn't want to heat up my kitchen more than necessary so skipped this step.  I also left it a little chunky because it adds an element of risk to possibly have something stuck between your teeth which I enjoy.  I served the salsa on seared tilapia fillets with an asparagus, cucumber, tomato, and feta salad, but I think the sauce would be equally good as a topping for tacos or scrambled eggs.

Garlic Scape Salsa Verde on Seared Tilapia
Inspired by for the love of yum

Makes 1 1/2 cups (350mL)
Total time: 20-30 minutes (all active)

For the salsa:
  • 8 garlic scapes
  • 1/2 a bunch of cilantro, leaves and stems
  • 1/2 a bunch of basil, leaves and stems (this was a smaller bunch)
  • 1 jalapeno with the stem removed
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3-1/2 cup (80-120mL) olive oil 
  • water to loosen (maybe 1/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons honey (optional)
For the fish:
  • butter
  • a few fillets of tilapia (or other white fish)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garlic scape salsa verde
Salsa Verde:  Roughly chop the scapes, herbs, and jalapeno (including the seeds if you're bold) and add to a food processor with the lemon juice and a big pinch of salt and pepper.  Pulse a few times to break things down, then add the olive oil while the processor is running.  Process for a few minutes, adding splashes of water to loosen if necessary until everything is broken down into a saucy consistency.  Taste and add more lemon juice, salt, or pepper if needed (I used a particularly spicy jalapeno so used 2 teaspoons of honey to mellow things out).

Fish:  Melt a small knob of butter in a heavy pan over medium heat.  Rinse tilapia and pat dry with a towel.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  When the butter has started to brown, add the fish to the pan and cook for 1-3 minutes (depending on how thick your fillet is) until browned on one side.  Flip and sear for 1-3 minutes until browned on the other side.  Top each fillet with about 2 tablespoons of garlic scape salsa verde.


    1. Have had garlic scapes on my want/need to try list forever, so glad you featured them! I must get my hands on them this year.

      I want to this recipe specifically, so there's another idea for you:

    2. mmmmmm did you use the honey from the market?!

    3. I actually set out to make scape pesto, but didn't have any nuts or cheese. so I guess you could say this is a lazy variation?

      And Jill, yes, I did indeed use the honey from the market. Use yours yet?

    4. This looks AMAZING, but i'm too lazy to make it.

    5. very nice! I love how you paired it with fish, I'll have to try it with fish as well. :)