It’s Scape Time & What Else is In Season Now

June 8, 2012 at 8:40 am

One of the key differences between locavores and grocery store shoppers is how we take our garlic. When they want garlic, they find it one way: dry, white, harsh. What they find usually comes imported from China. We take our garlic in many ways. What we find comes from the farmer’s market and depends on the season.  We start with the tiniest green garlic stems, more like chives or scallions, move on to fresh cloves, end summer with a variety of types and then persevere with the hardiest storage varieties. At a point in the cycle, pretty early, we get to eat the immature tops, what would turn into gar;ic flowers if not lopped off, also known as the garlic scapes. We eat scapes like a vegetable. It’s like a green with the garlic flavor already built in. This feature makes it an great partner for pasta and an even better partner for eggs, where the bite of raw garlic would be too much.

In cooking, eggs often serve as a binder. For a locavore, eggs often serve as a binder too, bringing together the disparate ingredients one has obtained over the weeks. For a while I’ve been hankering to make frattanine alle erbe, tiny egg pancakes filled with greens and herbs. While I have greens in the Bungalow, I decided to make what I’m calling frittatine alle verdue, with vegetables instead as I mostly wanted to use some hanging around scallions and my large supply of garlic scapes. These made for a nice lunch, with a green salad on the side.

I rough cut basil, scallions and scapes and sauteed them for about five minutes in olive oil over medium heat. Until soft but not ashen.

To make the frittatine, you crack one egg into a bowl. Mix with a fork. Season with a bit of salt, a shake of nutmeg cannot hurt if you got.

Lightly oil a small, heavy bottom pan, preferably cast iron, add a dollop of the verdue, then pour in the egg.

It took me several attempts to master or at least determine the right technique here. The idea is to make something akin to a crepe not an omelet. My problem was my pan was exactly the right size for the frittatine, but exactly the right size made flipping difficult. It was hard to get a spatula in under the eggs.

My tendency at first was to revert to French habits [ed. you?]. I used a fork to pull back the cooked eggs from the edge, letting some of the uncooked eggs fill-in. I wanted to fold the egg to cook the wet inside. Instead what I found was just be patient. Let the bottom cook long enough, over medium heat, to really firm up the whole thing. Then it was possible to slip the spatula in and give a good flip. Under this method, the second side needs only about 10 seconds.

I kept the frittatine in a 175 degree oven until I finished the dozen.

The finished product served with some grated (local) Parmesan style cheese and some salsa verde I’ve had around (freshening up a bit the other night with some new herbs).

In addition to garlic, the markets are filling up with other fruits and vegetables.  Here’s some of the things to get this time of year:

  • Cherries – The season for cherries is not long and the amount of cherries to be had this year should be short, so take advantage now.
  • In Pods – Unlike the seasonal menus of myth and Mediterranean, the things in pods do not come into season around here until June.  Now is the time to find English or shelling peas, sugar snaps, snow peas, and fava beans.  Because peas and favas go from sugar to starch very soon after harvest, farmer’s markets are the only place to really get the real thing, and as good as a frozen pea can be, nothing compares to a great fresh one.
  • Berries – Strawberries should be around a for several more weeks.  We are starting to see raspberries in the markets and should be seeing blueberries too.
  • Roots – The first batch of root crops is up and around, including beets, turnips, and the freshest, sharpest–remember young vegetables are not the sweetest contrary to what instinct would tell you.
  • Summer’s here – There’s a variety of tomatoes out there already, indoor or hoop-house grown, and the earliest outdoor cherry tomatoes will be there soon too.  There are cukes and zukes and probably even eggplants because of the crazy weather.
  • Lettuces, rocket, spinach and all the stuff that won’t fade the heat – You may be growing wearing of the ever-green in your CSA box, but once it gets hot and these plants bolt, you’ll be long for a nice green salad.  We know.

Share with us any special market finds.