My friend June, an avid reader of Chewing the Fat, sent me a message recently because she simply could not find an ingredient in one of our recipes. She went to four different stores looking for something I could have bought at four different places in my neighborhood. In hers, however, Cremini Mushrooms were a no go. Her request was that I inform my readers of a substitute—which in the case of the missing mushrooms was “white button mushrooms”. So today, while I introduce you to an incredibly delicious combination of tender chicken, light as air potatoes flavored with garlic and topped with fresh green garlic scapes, I’ll tell you straight from the start: If you can’t find garlic scapes, use a bunch of Scallions instead. But, if you can find the scapes, by all means use them. They’re another reason to welcome Spring and the return of fresh produce to the Farmer’s Market.
|60,000 shoppers visit the Farmer's Market|
at Union Square every Saturday in season.
Garlic itself is no stranger to most kitchens. The bulb can be used in dozens of dishes. But in earliest Spring, the stalk of the plant , the scape, contains a wonderfully mild garlic flavor, never as pungent as the full grown bulb. The garlic scape serves as the stem from which the seed head of the garlic bulb is formed. As the bulb begins to grow and mature, garlic scapes begin to lengthen and curve. Early in the growing cycle, the garlic scape is relatively tender, making it ideal for use as an ingredient to cook with. As the plant continues to grow, the scape gradually begins to straighten, creating more support for the bulb. And it becomes far too tough to be usable. And last week at the Union Square Farmer’s Market in New York, the short-lived scape was at its peak. I couldn’t’ wait to take them home. But I had no idea what to do with them.