Recipe & Tips from Chef Mario: Garlic Pigtails and Zucchini Flowers

Check out this special post from our very own CSA member, Chef Mario:

Awesome signs of early summer are here in our CSA !!!! 

Rhubarb, zucchini flowers and garlic pigtails are definitely a sign of early summer, all of these three items can only be seen grow naturally during the early period of the season. 

Many of us may not be familiar with garlic pigtails, also known as garlic scapes or garlic shoots, they are the green bright beautiful part of the garlic plant that comes out before the garlic matures; however, flavor wise I think that they are the best of both worlds, since these twisty, curly stems have a gentle, fresh, sweet taste of garlic without the harshness that is usually associated with the vampire repellent flavor of the conventional garlic bulb.

Please store these garlic pigtails in a paper bag in the refrigerator, they can last up to a week and a half this way. They can be grilled, oven roasted, made into pesto or pickled.  When grilled or roasted, these delicate stems will pair well with grilled fish or meat for your July 4th barbecue, and if pickled they can do the same; but you could also use them as a complement snack for a martini or a sparkling white wine like a Verdicchio or a Vinho Verde.

Now let’s get to make some Garlic Shoot Pesto, and for this you will need:

  • 3 pieces of top garlic pig tails roughly chopped, trim the really hard part of the stems, reserve and use them for roasting or grilling
  • juice of 1 medium size lemon, 
  • ½ cup of olive oil, 
  • ¼ cup of raw almonds, and
  • ¾ cup of parmesan cheese, this is optional if you are not in the mood for cheese.

Place all in a blender and blend until completely pureed, use this pesto with pasta or as a sauce for the animal or non animal protein of your choice.

Pickling them is also easy, but you only need the top tender parts of the shoot, which you will place in a heat resistant glass jar with a lid. In a small pot, place 1 cup of water, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, ⅛ cup of sea salt and ⅛ cup of demerara sugar, bring to a boil and pour this solution, while hot, over the garlic shoots, wait about five minutes and then close the jar, leave jar out to room temperature for two hours, and then refrigerate.

How about those bright yellow Zucchini flowers? They can be stuffed or eaten as they are, mixed in your pasta with tomato sauce, or your morning omelette or egg scrammies; however, if you want to get a bit fancy with that pesto you are planning to make with the garlic pig tails, the pesto can be mixed with ricotta cheese, chopped cilantro, salt and pepper. Stuff the flowers with this mix, dip them in a tempura batter and pan fried them, don’t wait too long since their shelf life is short.

Happy Fourth!! Enjoy what our CSA is bringing to us, there is nothing better than eating organic, beautiful ingredients, one morsel at a time.

Best wishes

Chef Mario @ Morsels in the Buff