Garlic Scapes Are Back!

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So the thermometer has climbed above 90 and will probably remain there for the next four months. Road construction has made the streets impassable. Everywhere you look, people are all aglow with their first sunburns of the year. All these things are dismal, and yet Gut Check's wizened little heart is swollen with contentment and well-being. That's because yesterday afternoon, at the Maplewood Farmers' Market (7260 Southwest Avenue, 314-241-2337), we saw the first garlic scapes of the season.

Those little green curlicues were truly a sight for sore eyes. Technically, they're the green shoots that sprout from a garlic bulb. But that doesn't nearly capture their appeal. They are truly the most wonderful of alliums, brilliantly green, adorably -- almost Seussically -- curled, as flavorful as their bulbous descendants but far less pungent.

We practically attacked the nice, indecisive lady in front of us in line who was preventing us from getting our hands on a bunch or three.

Like Christmas, garlic-scape season comes but once a year and lasts only about half as long. The arrival of the first strawberry and the first tomato are almost as joyous, but you can get strawberries and tomatoes all year round. Once the last sad, shriveled garlic scape disappears from the market, they're gone, baby, gone.

But perish that unhappy thought. We've got scapes for the next three weeks, and we're going to make the most of them while we can.

Treat a garlic scape the way you would a scallion and chop it up and use it to flavor salads, stir-fries, omelets, frittatas, salsas, soups, mashed potatoes or anything else you can think of. Roast it. Sautee it in butter. Or olive oil. Or white wine and add some tomatoes.

Or do it up the way we like it best: as a pesto with slivered almonds, Parmesan cheese and olive oil.

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We got the recipe from Dorie Greenspan. Or, rather, off of Dorie Greenspan's website. We love this recipe so much, we now consider Dorie one of our dearest friends, though we're sure the feeling is totally one-sided.

Anyway. We eat this pesto over pasta, with bacon. We also eat it with our fingers straight from the bowl. It makes us happy to stay huddled in the air-conditioning. Who needs sunlight? Who needs fresh air? Or a cool breeze? We have garlic scapes!

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