I’m in Year 5 of my love affair with the garlic scape, the curlicued shoot of the garlic bulb that shows up at this time of year for just a few short weeks. It’s a relationship that reminds me of the 1978 movie, Same Time Next Year, the story of Doris and George, married to other people, who have a tryst the same weekend for 26 years.
As tantalized as I am by the lipstick-red sweetness of strawberries and the earthy wholesomeness of freshly dug-up asparagus, I am completely smitten with the garlic scape, and tune out the rest of the produce world in mid-to-late June for private time with my pistachio-hued paramour. Although it slices like a scallion and adds a mildly garlic kick to salads, stir fries and omelets, the allure of the scape is its ability to be pureed and transformed into pesto. Unlike basil pesto, its famous (and overrated) Italian cousin, garlic scape pesto is thicker — more like a spread – and is so full-flavored that the traditional add-on of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is dare I say it, unnecessary.
In the first few years of our romance, GSP and I have had many blissed-out moments together – tossed into short pasta (with a handful of cherry tomatoes), slathered on grilled slabs of crusty bread, and perhaps the most intimate way of all, slurped from a spoon over the sink.
As we grow older together, my beloved curlicue and I are exploring new ways to make the most of our time together every June. This year, we’ve taken our relationship to new levels, and I do believe I’m still flush with excitement. We’ve swapped out the pasta for pizza dough, and we’ve topped the grass-green pizza shell with thinly sliced potatoes.
The spuds are a tribute to gnocchi, the dumpling of Italy, often made with potatoes. I’ll never forget the night I ate my first bowlful of potato gnocchi, wading in a pool of basil pesto, at a trattoria in Cinque Terre, a cluster of five villages along the Ligurian coast.
In this case, I boiled a whole unpeeled Yukon gold potato in salted water for about 18 minutes, enough time for partial cooking but not too soft for thin slices.
My pizza dough shaped and at the ready, I arranged my par-boiled potato thins atop a layer of garlic scape astro turf, followed by mini-dollops of pesto, topped off with a wisp of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a drizzle of olive oil.
I could say that the results are delicious, but that would be too easy and tawdry, like basil pesto. You know how some folks talk about toe-curling sex? That’s my lover, garlic scape pesto pizza.
Garlic Scape Pesto-Potato Pizza
1-2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, washed thoroughly
1 12-inch round of your favorite pizza dough
Medium grind cornmeal, for dusting pan
1 batch of garlic scape pesto (recipe follows)
Parmigiano-Reggiano and olive oil for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
Here’s What You Do
In a medium saucepan with 4 cups of water and ½ teaspoon of salt, boil potatoes for 18 minutes. Remove from pot and transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool. Remove skin and slice potatoes into ¼-inch rounds.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Roll out pizza dough into desired shape, about 12 inches across. Dust an inverted cookie/baking sheet with cornmeal. Place dough atop cornmeal.
With an icing spreader or flat-edged rubber spatula, spread about 1/3 cup of pesto, covering entire surface of dough. Place potatoes on top in a single layer, followed by Parmigiano-Reggiano, if using, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes, rotating tray from front to back at the 8-minute mark. Transfer pizza to cutting surface and slice into wedges.
Note: 1 batch of pesto is enough for 2 pizzas, and then some.
Garlic Scape Pesto
1 cup garlic scapes (8-10 scapes), flowery tendril removed, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/3 cup walnuts, pecans or almonds
1/2 cup olive oil
¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated, or more to taste (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
Here’s What You Do
Place scapes and nuts in the bowl of a food processor and whiz until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in oil and process until integrated. With a rubber spatula, scoop pesto out of bowl and into a mixing bowl.
Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano to taste (if using), then add salt and pepper.
Makes about ¾ cup of pesto.
Keeps for up to one week in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.