While I was away, constantly inhaling that unmatcheable perfume that is only found at the top of a newborn baby’s head, Larry had to cut all of the garlic scapes from our over 200 heads of garlic.
Garlic scapes are the flower of a garlic plant, and leaving them in place robs the garlic bulb of growth, as the plant will put more energy into maturing a flower, which will eventually fling seeds around – nature’s way of growing more garlic. Our way is to separate the cloves and plant them, but nature takes a more direct approach. We want nice fat cloves of garlic, but nature just wants to make sure there will be more garlic.
Scapes are very tasty – a milder flavor and they have a green tasting quality to them that I like a lot. I like to make Garlic Scape Pesto and get some of that in the freezer, but this year, when I returned home, I decided to use some of it for one of our favorite condiments – Chimichurri Sauce.
Chimichurri is an Argentinian sauce that consists of garlic, fresh herbs, vinegar and oil, and it is most often used to top grilled or roasted meat. It is really good on chicken or pork, but I think it really shines on beef, which is after all a favorite food in Argentina – they know what tastes good on beef!
Because the scapes are more mild than the actual garlic will eventually be, you can use more of them and in this recipe, they make up the bulk of the sauce. I added the herbs I have that are just now really taking off in the garden – parsley, cilantro and fresh oregano. I also liked the idea of cumin, so I toasted some whole cumin seeds and tossed those in as well.
Chimichurri sauce is not only infinitely adjustable to suit your tastes, but also pretty scaleable, in that you can increase or decrease the amount, depending on how much sauce you need. My herbs are just getting going really well, and there are only two of us here, so I only wanted to end up with a cup or so – feel free to change the amounts to suit what you like and what you have. And if you don’t have any garlic scapes, just use a few cloves of garlic, though you will want to increase the the proportion of herbs you use, because scapes are much milder in flavor.
- ½ teaspoon cumin seed
- About 8 to 10 garlic scapes - use the bulb part, plus the 5 inches or so above and below it, as that is the most tender
- ½ to 1 jalapeno- stem, seeds and membranes removed
- ½ cup fresh parsley leaves
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- ⅓ cup fresh oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons high quality olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 10 grinds fresh black pepper
- Toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet for about 1 minute - until they smell very fragrant. Set aside to cool for a couple minutes.
- Roughly chop the garlic scapes.
- Place the cumin seeds, garlic scapes, parsley, cilantro and oregano in the bowl of a food processor.
- Process, pausing to scrape down the sides if needed, until everything is chopped uniformly and fairly fine - you want the garlic scape pieces to be about the size of rice grains.
- Add the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and pulse briefly to combine.
- Scrape the chimichurri sauce into a small bowl. Allow it to sit at room temperature for an hour at least before using, so that they flavors have a chance to blend together.
- Serve as an accompaniment to grilled meats, on tacos, burritos, burgers, scrambled eggs, etc. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to a week, but bring back to room temperature before serving.
I use chimichurri not only as a condiment, but also as an add-in for vinaigrettes, sauces and dips – anytime I want a hit of garlicky, slightly spicy kick.
But, you just wan’t beat it as a topping for steak!