I’m not sure what was about the evenings this week, but they really made me go overboard when buying fresh produce. Maybe my subconscious is finally ready to shed the winter comfort-food weight. Maybe it was because the official start to summer was just around the corner (happy summer, everyone!). Or maybe it was just the lure of trying new ingredients. Whatever the reason, on Monday night I found myself struggling home under the weight of a pound of garlic scapes, an ingredient I had heard much about, eaten once, and had never seen raw, much less cooked with. Using them was going to be an adventure.
I guess what pulled me to them was their thoroughly whimsical look. They didn’t just sit in a box at the stand; they twirled and pirouetted and spiralled their way in and around and out of the box. They smelled faintly garlicky in a light, fresh way, and the stalks snapped pleasingly like a healthy, hardy plant is supposed to. Even though I wasn’t quite yet sure what I was going to do with them, I knew that they were too good to be a side dish to some other ingredient– these scapes had to be the star of the show.
I can say with perfect certainty that on this pizza, the garlic scapes shone. They were sweet, moist, and a little bit cruncy. They were roasty, they were warm, and they were sunny– they tasted a bit like the way summer tastes, like eating a little bit of the sun’s warm energy. Best of all, they let me enjoy the best things about eating garlic without smelling like a vampire-slayer.
Okay, so that last one was a bit of a joke. The garlic flavor isn’t as prevalent after roasting, I think, though the scapes were still obviously a part of the same garlic family. Jokes aside, though, this pizza is definitely a keeper. For those of you who hate turning your oven on in the summer, this pizza would also be fantastic on the grill– just make sure to roast your scapes a little bit before topping the pizza with them. I understand that garlic scape season is very short, though, so hurry! Get them while they last so you too can try this lovely, summery, cheesy, garlicky offering.
Garlic Scape Pizza
Pizza dough (enough for two medium-sized pizzas)*
About 1/2 lb garlic scapes
about 10 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/4c ricotta cheese
2/3 c shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiana cheese, plus about a quarter cup
salt to taste
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a pizza stone, heat it with the oven.
Stretch your dough into a disk. If you’re a pizza whiz, I’m sure you will be able to flip it around on your knuckles like a true pizza chef. For everyone else, I found that the easiest way to stretch the dough was to roll it out with a rolling pin to a shape close to the desired finished shape and then continue to stretch the dough by hand.
Note that while we ended up making two oval-shaped pizzas because they fit better into the baking sheets, the the size and shape of your pizza does not matter much as long as the dough is fairly evenly spread out. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but make sure that there are no egregiously thick spots and that there are no holes.
If you do not have a pizza stone, lightly grease a baking sheet. Spread cornmeal on one side of the pizza dough and lay the dough onto the baking sheet, cornmeal-side down.
In a small bowl, mix the ricotta with about 1/4 cup of the freshly grated parmigiana and a bit of salt. When combined, spread in a thin layer onto the stretched pizza dough. Layer the mozzarella evenly on top of the ricotta and top with the remaining parmigiana.
Lay your garlic scapes onto the pizzas, making sure that any thin ends are tucked in so that they do not burn. You may also want to make sure that the scapes lie relatively flat on the pizza instead of curling up into the air– it may take a few more minutes to deal with the whimsical untamed nature of the scape curls, but it will prevent them from burning in the hot oven.
Once the scapes have been tamed, nestle the tomato halves into the cheese between the scape curls.
Bake the pizzas for about fifteen minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden, alternating the pans on the top and bottom of the oven halfway through.
*I still haven’t gotten the hang of making yeasted doughs during the week, so I used a pre-made pizza crust from Whole Foods. It was quite lovely. Trader Joe’s also has good pizza dough, and I understand from the internet that you may be able to get dough from your favorite pizza places. Who knew!