Our Turkish Giant garlic, planted last fall, has just finished shooting up its twisty green flower stalks, also known as scapes. Only hardneck garlic varieties do this, and you have to cut them so that the plant can put more energy into growing bigger cloves. They can be found at many growers’ markets for just a precious few weeks in mid-June, a riot of crazy corkscrew curls that to me embodies the exuberance of spring. The really interesting thing about them is that they taste intensely garlicky when raw, without quite the bite of mature garlic cloves, but when cooked they simply become vegetable-like, with a delicate hint of garlic flavor.
I made a wonderful, creamy pesto that freezes well, so that we can enjoy a taste of this short-lived spring treat later in the year. I used pistachios for an interesting twist, but pinon nuts would be just as good, and both are local crops in NM. If you find the pesto too intense to eat raw, just toss it with hot pasta – it mellows quickly with even the slightest heat. I love it in cold pasta salads, especially since scape season always coincides with our June heat wave! Peas and arugula are in season at the same time as scapes, but later in the summer this recipe would be great with grilled zucchini, raw or grilled sweet peppers, or cherry tomatoes. You could even make this a potato salad instead of pasta salad.