A friend of Sarah’s dropped off some chives and leeks from her garden when Sarah was away in New York a few weeks ago. Sarah had told me this was going to happen, and that she thought the leeks were going to be for planting.
When the leeks arrived, I was surprised, because they were full sized, and I’d done some research and I didn’t find any mention of planting mature leeks to make more leeks. But, maybe because I have a streak of Amelia Bedilia in me, I couldn’t help myself from planting the leeks in the garden anyway.
Does any one remember the Amelia B. stories from childhood? She was the lovable housekeeper who always took her instructions too literally, and got into all kinds of trouble. She would do things like scatter dust all over the living room and cut holes out of her employer’s dresses. But everyone always forgave her in the end, because she made such damn good pie!
So when Sarah and Doug got home, the first thing they did, even before unloading all of their bags, was to go for a walk in the garden. And when they got to the leeks, they were really confused. Sarah asked Doug, “How did we get corn?” (it was dark, and the leeks were really tall!)
A silly garden faery named Elka, that’s how! We all got an most excellent laugh out of it, so really, it was well worth the trouble of moving around a little dirt! 🙂
So, needless to say, the next day we dug up the leeks to cook with them! They had some lovely scapes on them. I never knew you could cook with scapes, until my friend Megan, the head gardener at Wellsprings in Ashland, told me about this. She suggested that I pickle a huge load of garlic scapes she brought me from the garden there. Which I did, and they were incredibly delicious!
I had yet to try cooking with leek scapes, so I wasn’t sure about it. But I sliced one up and it was delicious raw. Like garlic scapes, they’re spicy. Not as spicy as the garlic though. They’re also juicy, like a cross between jicama and broccoli stems with the outside part peeled off. The only part that didn’t seem edible was the very tip, and the very bottom of the scape, where it was hard to get a knife through the scape, and it was woody to chew. The rest of it was excellent!
So here’s a few ways to use leek and garlic scapes.
Rosemary Brine for Garlic or Leek Scapes, or Onions
To me, pickled alliums (garlic, leeks, onions) are one of the most elemental of treats. I love how they go with anything from extravagant veggie dishes to cheese toast. They’re great with grilled meats, soups, sandwiches, and so much more! I also use the same brine for pickled fish and zucchinis, which I also make at every opportunity.
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp salt
2 teaspoons each mustard seeds and dill seeds
2-3 sprigs rosemary
up to 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Put all ingredients in a pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Uncover and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour over a jar of chopped leek or garlic scapes, onions or peeled and sliced domestic onions (green, red, or Vidalia especially). Let sit for at least a few hours before using, preferably 24 hours.
To use Garlic or Leek Scapes in a Stir Fry:
I like to slice them up on the diagonal. (If they’re too woody to slice, they won’t be good to eat.) Add to a medium-hot pan with some unrefined coconut oil or grapeseed oil and some salt. Cook them until they’re just barely tender, which will only take a few minutes.
Anybody out there want to share their own favorite ways to fix this overlooked little treasure?