This time of the year in the garden is when the magic starts to happen. After weeks of waiting for signs of life, the garden is starting to produce like gangbusters. The spring and summer vegetables are oddly reaching maturity at the same time. The peas are ready faster than I can pick them and I picked my first cherry tomatoes this morning. Going out into the garden is like a treasure hunt, never knowing what will be ready to turn into a delicious dinner. It’s so gratifying to turn the soil, plant a few seeds and watch them grow into something that you can share with family and friends.
If you’ve never seen or eaten garlic scapes, you should seek some out. Scapes are the stem of hardnecked garlic and lucky for us, they need to be trimmed before they flower or the garlic will focus all it’s energy in the flower and not the bulb where you want it to be hard at work.
They have a mild garlicky flavor and are best enjoyed simply. They are delicious roasted or quickly sauteed and make the most amazing pesto. If you can’t find garlic scapes you can substitute a mixture of chives and garlic instead. Cover the top of the pesto with olive oil and refrigerate for a few days or freeze for up to 3 months.
I never really cared for peas growing up but eating them straight off the vine, the snap and sweetness is a flavor that I never tire of. The added benefit of peas is that they produce the most lovely little flowers before they fruit so they add beauty to the garden as well.
Pasta with garlic scape pesto and fresh peas
- 1 cup finely chopped garlic scapes (or 2/3 cup finely chopped chives, plus 2 to 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup roasted hazelnuts
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ pound snap peas
- 1 cup peas
- 4 tablespoons finely grated parmesan
- ¼ cup mint leaves
- 1 pound spaghetti
Make the pesto: puree the garlic scapes, hazelnuts, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and lemon juice in a food processor until finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add the oil. Season the pesto with additional salt and pepper to taste.
In a large pot of heavily salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al dente adding the snap peas and peas during the last minute of cooking. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Whisk together 2/3 cup of the pesto and the reserved pasta water and toss with the pasta. To serve sprinkle with the parmesan and mint leaves.