In addition to the fortune of fresh fava beans that showed up in this week’s CSA share, the other ingredient that thoroughly intrigued me were “scapes.” For those not familiar with what is a scape, it is the flower stem of the garlic. Remember, garlic is a bulb that grows in the soil and out of it will be produced a stem and eventually a flower … just like other bulbous members of the allium family like onions and chives. However, most often this “by product” is lost and rarely do we see it available. My CSA provider, Waratah Downs Farm, recommended that it’s customers try making a pesto with it … and since I love pesto, I decided to make this a part of my CSA challenge. You’ll note my pesto has a few unique variations to it: walnuts (I wanted something that would stand up stronger than pine nuts to the scapes), lemon peel (added with the intention that this will be paired with fish), limited basil (to let the scapes be most present), and no cheese (to avoid burning on the grill).
The second part of the challenge was what to do with the pesto — an in a moment of inspiration I decided I wanted to use halibut steaks … a great grilling fish. Grilling halibut is stupidly easy, as is cooking most fish — the key is to not to overcook and make sure you oil your grates before placing the fish on the grill. Cooking times mentioned here are only estimates — you’ll need to adjust for the thickness and size of your halibut steaks. Just make sure there is no opaqueness remaining near the bone and remove when the flakes of the halibut just become ‘flakeable’ with a fork.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Grilled Halibut with Garlic Scape-Walnut Pesto
- 2½ ounces (70g) of garlic scapes (about 8 large scapes)
- 1/3 cup of untoasted walnuts
- 1/4 of a Meyer lemon skin (or approximately 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest)
- 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
- 1/4 cup of fresh basil (approximately 2-3 large sprigs)
- 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat barbeque to 400°F.
- Remove halibut from fridge 1-hour before grilling and generously coat with olive oil. Season just before grilling as the salt will otherwise remove the moisture from the fish.
- Prepare the pesto. Chop the scapes into 2-inch pieces and place in food processor. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze 1 tablespoon of juice, and place in food processor — then cut the juiced half the lemon in half (i.e. a quarter of the whole lemon), and ‘fillet’ out the lemon skin, being careful to remove all of the white pith and then finely mince the skin and place in the food processor. Add walnuts, basil, salt and pepper to the food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped or until food processor stops cutting, whichever happens first. Then begin to drizzle in the olive oil until a slightly granular paste is formed — don’t add more oil than necessary. Taste for seasoning (salt and pepper) and then scoop it out and set aside.
- Prepare to grill the halibut by seasoning the fish and then by ‘seasoning’ the grill by spraying the grates with oil. Place the fish directly onto the grill and close lid and cook for approximately 4 minutes. Carefully flip the fish using “fish tongs” if you have them being careful that none of the fish sticks to the grill as this will tear the fish. Generously slather the top of each halibut steak with a heaping teaspoon of pesto and cook for an additional 4 minutes … or until done.
- Remove from grill onto a clean plate and serve and enjoy.
Serving suggestions: Sautéed Swiss chard and/or pan-fried summer squash with fresh dill (recipes to follow).
Wine Pairing: A new-world Sauvignon Blanc would be an excellent choice.