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Absorption Pasta with Scapes and Wild Mushrooms

Absorption Pasta with Scapes and Wild Mushrooms

This is the second week of my farm share and things are already getting good. Garlic scapes! I never even heard of them, and certainly never cooked with  them, but here they are in my bag of tender fresh green goodies from the hardworking farmers up the road. If you like challenges, this is one of the best reasons to join a farm share: unexpected and unusual ingredients that you never get at the supermarket.

The Epicurious food dictionary choked on this one, so I don’t feel so bad about my ignorance. Garlic scapes are the tender curling young stalks of hardneck garlic. Harvested in the spring, they are crunchy and garlicky, and, like garlic cloves, their flavor is mellowed by cooking. They can be chopped up and scattered raw on salad to add some crunch (with a nice sharp bite), used to make a flavorful pesto, or chopped and tossed with some buttered boiled new potatoes, among many other options.

I had some shitake, oyster and crimini mushrooms in the house, so I decided to combine them with  the baby Swiss chard from this week’s share and a nice absorption-cooked pasta, topped with seared curls of the garlic scapes. Some aged Parmeggiano-Reggiano  and a drizzle of truffle oil made it extra special. The earthy tastes of the chard and the mushrooms worked well with the still-crunchy and garlicky scapes. This was a great start to the second week of our farm share adventure!

Absorption  Pasta with Garlic Scapes and Wild Mushrooms

Serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main course.

8 oz pasta (I used orecchiette)
1 medium onion, 1/4” dice
2 C low sodium chicken stock, simmering
1 C heavy cream
olive oil
2 T butter
4 oz assorted mushrooms, cleaned and sliced irregularly
4-6 garlic scapes
1 oz Parmeggiano-Reggiano, shredded
1 T truffle oil
3 oz baby Swiss chard, stems removed, chopped coarsely
salt, hot sauce, to taste

Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium low heat and allow to boil gently until reduced by half.

Sauté the onion in two  tablespoons olive oil about 6 minutes on medium heat, stirring, until translucent. Add the pasta and toss in the oil until the pasta pieces are well coated with oil. Add 1 cup of the chicken stock, stir and cover tightly. Reduce heat to medium low and allow the pasta to simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. After about 10 minutes, give the pasta a stir and see that there is still adequate liquid in the pan. Add more stock if necessary – different pastas will absorb different amounts of liquid. It’s not necessary that all the liquid is absorbed so keep the bottom of the pan wet throughout the cooking.

While the pasta is simmering, heat some olive oil in a sauté pan until very hot but not smoking and sear the mushrooms, tossing constantly, until they are browned  at the edges. Remove to a side plate. Toss in the scapes and sear on all sides until they start to show some black blisters. Remove to a side plate. Add the 2 tablespoons butter and stir, scraping up any bits from the pan, until the butter turns a golden brown. Remove from heat and stir in the reduced cream.

When the pasta is cooked, stir in the butter/cream mixture, the cheese, the Swiss chard and the mushrooms. Allow to stand for a minute or two to let the chard cook, correct seasoning if necessary and then turn into the serving bowl. Arrange the seared garlic scapes on top.


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Garlic scapes! Thank you putting a name to these things I picked up at the asian market! (and a really yummy use for it!)

Sounds wonderful. I think it might have been when you were moving, but we had a week when four people wrote about garlic scapes for Weekend Herb Blogging. Quite the trend.

I've been searching for scapes at the Farmers' Markets, but no luck.{sigh}

I absolutely adore garlic scapes (frankly, I never knew what they were called either). We Koreans eat them slightly pickled in a chili paste concoction. Wonderful, over hot hot sticky white rice.

hi stephen! i'm so glad you cooked up those garlic scapes. i was starting to think koreans were the only ones to eat it. i love the texture of these and can eat a mound of it the spicy way on top of steaming rice. yum!

there is a non-spicy way to cook them also - with soy sauce, sugar and baby anchovies. i've actually never cooked it myself though.

Hi Stephen,

Looks awsome! I have some garlic scapes from my CSA too. I've roasted them yesterday. I'll try your seared method today. Also thanks for absorption pasta recipe. I've heard about it before, but never tried to make it that way. It's on my list :)


I had never heard of absorption pasta before.. what a wonderful way to flavor the pasta! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe, not only does it look delicious but you've taught me something new :D

Stephen - I discovered garlic scapes last June at my local farmer's market - heaven! My mum grows garlic in her garden, and she also uses garlic flower buds, which look like hunders of tiny garlic cloves, all with a very mellow garlic taste- lovely.
I read about absorption pasta over at Chocolate&Zucchini few weeks ago, and it definitely sounds like something I would like and should try. Thanks for the reminder!

Thanks everyone for the comments.

About absorption pasta: it's been around for a while, but usually done with orzo -- and called "orzo 'risotto'" -- see for example this 1990 Gourmet recipe. Some of you may have noticed that most of my pasta recipes call for the sauce and the pasta to be mixed in a pan and cooked together for a few minutes while tossing with tongs...this technique infuses the sauce into the pasta better than just combining them in the serving I just decided the other day to go a little farther with that idea and adapt the 'orzo risotto' recipe to another type of pasta to more fully combine the flavorings with the pasta.

Oh wow, this looks amazing.

What a bundle of veggies..

Stephen, thanks for sending me this link to your explanation of Scapes. I Googled it and found a good explanation there along with a sketch! I will have to look for them at Central Market in Dallas.

As a fellow southern Mainer, I was delighted to see your post on garlic scrapes. I've got garlic coming up in the garden (well, when it's not covered by April snow) and I can't wait to give this recipe a try. Yum!

Man, this looks excellent, and I really like the sound of absorption technique too - can't wait to have a crack at it.

The place I used to live had a no-longer-used garlic and asparagus field. We'd go picking the wild 'scapes' (no one knows what these bloody things are called, it seems) in amongst all the other grasses.

Most of the time, we were too late, and the sheep had eaten all the shooting tops off of the garlic. I always fantasised about those sheepies - imagine spring lamb fed on a steady diet of baby garlic? I never worked up the guts to do it though.

Thanks for the new ideas!

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