How to get addicted to garlic scapes

Happy summer, everyone. It’s been quite the good growing season this year, a welcome contrast to the last one. With all the heat and sunshine lately, things have been taking off. Deryk went around the garden the other day and took pictures of how things are doing, and some of the tricks we use to maximize yields in a small space. Click below to check out the public photo album on Facebook. His captions tell the story.

BroccoliBaby pattypansChard and kale companionsGolden russet apples forming

Garlic scapes are on the latest things that we’ve been reaping from the gardens. For those of you who haven’t heard, garlic scapes are the immature flower stalks of the garlic plant. They are deep green, succulent, and crisp, and they carry that famously pungent garlic flavour—with their own twist. And twisted they come, coiled like snakes. We farmers pick off the scapes, both to direct more of the plant’s growth into the bulb, and to satisfy those early summer cravings of this delightful delicacy.

We brought our first harvest of scapes to the market today, but we’ll have more next week. On Wednesday, An is going to try out the Wednesday Market at Annapolis Royal, which runs from 10am to 2pm. And they don’t sell out that day, you can expect us to have them again next Saturday.

Here is a recipe for a creamy, nutty garlic scape dip that a friend shared with me and Laire when we had our urban farm in Nelson a few years back. We loved it so much that we’d make a new double batch every week until all our scapes were used up. It was a hit with everyone—even fussy 9-year-olds. Surprisingly addictive, we had it at parties, on camping trips, and during our lazy summer afternoons at our favourite beach. Try it with crackers, tortilla chips, veggie sticks, or experiment!

Creamy, Nutty Garlic Scape Dip

Garlic scape dip

Serves 4 to 6.

  • a dozen (1 bunch) garlic scapes
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds
  • 2 tbsp. sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (or experiment with another hard cheese)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • a few tbsp. sour cream and/or mayonnaise
  1. Wash the garlic scapes and cut off the flower tips so you are left with just the crisp, curly stem part. Chop them coarsely.
  2. Add the scapes, almonds, sunflower seeds, and parmesan cheese to the food processor. Process for a minute or so. Then add the olive oil and pulse until you have a pesto-like consistency.
  3. Put the “pesto” into a small bowl and mix in the Greek yogurt.
  4. Finally, mix in a few tablespoons sour cream and/or mayonnaise. You can vary these to your tastes. I like a bit of both.

This dip keeps well in the fridge for 4-5 days, but there’s a pretty good chance you’ll finish it on day 1 or 2.

Savouring summer abundance with a Chard, Choy, Cheese & Egg Casserole

It’s a bit crazy how fast things are growing at this time of year. It feels like little more than a week ago when I was transplanting the bok choy seedlings into the greenhouse, and already they’ve multiplied a hundred times in size. The livestock is as productive as ever, too, with a steady flow goat’s milk and our chickens and muscovy ducks laying all but too regularly. What’s a poor homesteader to do?? Why, bake a Chard, Choy, Cheese & Egg Casserole, of course!

This hearty dish is a delicious way to use up an abundance of greens, eggs, and cheese, and it’s as easy as pie.

  • 6 duck eggs (or 8 chicken eggs)
  • 1¼ cups whole-grain flour
  • 2-3 cups cottage cheese, ricotta, chèvre, or other soft curd cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2-3 cups any hard cheese, shredded (e.g., cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss)
  • ½ bunch rainbow chard, chopped
  • ½ head bok choy, chopped
  • handful of toasted sunflower seeds (optional)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and grease a large casserole.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and flour.
  3. Stir in all cheeses, and mix in chopped chard and bok choy.
  4. Mush up the mixture with a wooden spoon, or get right in there with your hands. You want it mushy but not runny.
  5. Pour mixture into greased casserole. If desired, sprinkle the top with toasted sunflower seeds.
  6. Bake at 350ºF for 45-55 minutes.

Enjoy right out of the oven. Tastes just as good as leftovers, too!

Now, the best part is, if you come to Farm-Gate Friday today between 4 and 6pm, you can pick up most of what you need for this recipe right here fresh from the farm. Or if you can’t make it today, come to market in Annapolis Royal tomorrow morning and pick up what you need there. See you soon!

Verdure verdi condite alla perfezione—or killer rainbow chard!

Laire and I are big fans of Jamie Oliver’s approach to cooking a side of greens, from his beautiful cookbook Jamie’s Italy. We do this with our gorgeous stalks of rainbow chard, kale, beet greens, and summer squash, and man! what a meal. We can’t get enough of the stuff, often finishing the greens before anything else on our plates.

It’s so simple, and I’m excited to share Jamie’s advice with you (in my own words).

Verdure verdi condite alla perfezione
Dressed up, perfectly cooked greens

I like how Jamie prefaces the recipe: “… in Italy, huge amounts of vegetables and greens are served as an antipasto just to get the tastebuds going. It’s because of this that the Italians are a damn sight healthier than us. So listen up. Let’s be like them and big up the greens. Cook them nicely, dress them with care and you’ll be laughing.” That just gets my mouth watering…

What you’ll need:

  • large pot of salted water
  • a very healthy bunch of greens (chard, spinach, kale, baby summer squash, broccoli, asparagus – whatever’s local and in season!)
  • 2-3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 3-6 tbsp. good quality vegetable oil, such as extra virgin olive oil, or a locally made alternative like Hillcreek Family Farm’s non-GMO canola or camelina oil (for sale at D’Aubin Family Meats in Bridgetown)
  • salt and pepper
  • minced garlic or garlic scapes, or one finely chopped chili pepper (optional)

Get the pot of water to a boil with the lid on. If you’re cooking chard or kale, chop up the stalks from the leaves first, then drop them into the boiling water. Then coarsely chop the leaves and after about a minute, drop them into the water, too. Boil them for 1-2 minutes. To tell if it’s done you can take a piece out and taste it, but the trick is to not overcook!

So cook them with your full attention (Jamie’s words), then drain them well into a colander and lay them on a clean kitchen towel to let the steam escape and soak up excess moisture. While still warm put them in a bowl and dress them with the vinegar or lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Add your garlic or chopped fresh chili for some heat and colour.

As Jamie recommends, try to get into the habit of this! It’s so delicious, good for you, a great way to use up what’s in season, and you won’t get tired of it.

Perfectly cooked greens

Foraging for fresh food from the forest floor!

How’s that for a tongue twister?

At this week’s Saturday market, like the last one, we will have (among other things) an abundance of foraged fiddleheads picked from ostrich ferns, now bursting out of creek floodlands and the forest floor (we won’t tell you exactly where!). Like any wildcrafted food, we harvest them with restraint, picking only 2-3 fronds per plant and leaving the others for the plant’s own use to help ensure sustained vitality. Deryk, who has picked fiddleheads in this area for decades, has observed how some patches have diminished in yield over the years. He owes this to the increasing popularity of wildcrafting in recent years, resulting in over-harvesting.

Now, with temperatures becoming milder, this will be our last week for fiddleheads this season. So get them while you can!

How to cook fiddleheads

This is the way Farmers Paul & Laire prefer to cook these babies! You’ll need:

  • 4-8 ounces fiddleheads
  • water with a pinch of salt for blanching
  • a knob of butter
  • a squeeze of lemon or a splash of good vinegar
  • salt & pepper
  • other seasonings, such as crushed garlic or pickled jalepeños
  1. Wash the fiddleheads in cold running water or by soaking them in a bowl of water, to clean off any debris. Many fiddleheads are still wrapped in a brown papery film that is last year’s dried fronds, and those should be removed. Meanwhile, bring your blanching water to a boil, and heat a skillet on medium-high.
  2. Blanch the fiddleheads for 2-3 minutes, until they turn a vibrant green (similar to asparagus). Do not over-boil or they will become too soft.
  3. Melt the butter on the skillet. Drain the fiddleheads, then spread onto the skillet and fry for another couple minutes.
  4. Transfer them to a bowl and give them a splash of lemon juice or vinegar. Season to your taste buds’ content. (Lately we’ve been adding chopped pickled peppers to almost every dish – delish!) Serve immediately.

Fried fiddleheads