This week in our CSA box we received some interesting things. Among them, garlic scapes, beets and Swiss chard. Garlic scapes were all the rage a year or so ago… the food blogging world just wouldn’t stop talking about them. If you happened to miss it, garlic scapes are the immature garlic plants. They’ve a mild, garlicy flavor that works well in many recipes, most notably a garlic scape pesto (thanks, Adam Roberts). Since last year I found it a challenge to use up all of the things I got in the box so I figured I’d use the scapes in a sauce with some of the other vegetables.
Penne with Hearty Greens
2 cups WHOLE GRAIN PENNE
3 SWEET ITALIAN SAUSAGES (if desired – this is perfectly good without)
1 cup GARLIC SCAPES
1 bunch of SWISS CHARD or other hearty green, such as KALE, de-stemmed and cut into ribbons
the GREENS from one bunch of BEETS (save the beets for something else)
2 tbs BUTTER, unsalted
1/4 tsp RED PEPPER FLAKES
1/4 tsp freshly ground NUTMEG
1 cup TOMATO SAUCE (whatever relatively plain one you like or, ideally, homemade)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bring a pot of water on your stovetop to boil. In a small baking dish, place GARLIC SCAPES and toss with SALT and a drizzle of OLIVE OIL. If you are using SAUSAGES, place them atop the scapes. Put the baking dish in the oven and cook for 1 hour. Meanwhile, prepare your GREENS and CHARD by stripping the stems and slicing into thick ribbons, around 1″ wide. When the SCAPES and SAUSAGES are done, cut the SAUSAGE into rough chunks (around 1″ square) and cut the SCAPES as finely as you can – but not pureed. While you cook your PENNE according to the manufacturer’s instructions, place a large saute/chefs pan or medium sized dutch oven over medium heat and add one 1 tbs BUTTER and a good lug of OLIVE OIL. Add SAUSAGE and SCAPES and cook for a minute. Add GREENS and CHARD in bunches along with a big pinch of salt, being aware they will wilt down a lot. Add second tbs of BUTTER, NUTMEG and RED PEPPER FLAKES. Cook until wilted. Add TOMATO SAUCE and let simmer until your PENNE is done. Toss PENNE with sauce for 1 to 2 minutes and serve.
You can certainly do this sauce without the tomato sauce, but I’d add another tbs of butter and a 1/4 cup of the pasta water to bring the sauce together. Fresh tomatoes would be good too, but I’d add them just before the pasta so they don’t loose all of their integrity (also add some basil… tomatoes LOVE basil).