NEW YORK CITY — When it comes to garlic, most people think of the pungent bulb that flavors salad dressings, soups and sauces.
During the early summer, the green tops of the garlic, known as scapes, are trimmed from the plants in order to produce a more pungent and flavorful bulb, according to the Institute of Culinary Education.
The curly, peculiar looking vegetables, available at farmers markets for a very short time period, have the crunch of a green bean and taste a little bit like green onion, though with a more pronounced garlic flavor.
This dish pairs the scapes, which are sauteed to mellow and enhance their flavor, speck (smoked prosciutto), wild mushrooms and lentils.
Served alongside roasted salmon, they make a perfect early-summer dish.
Here's how to make it tonight.
Ingredients (serves 2):
2 salmon filets (wild if you can get it)
6-8 oz. wild mushrooms (any will work), left whole or chopped in half if they're too big
Bunch of garlic scapes, chopped into bite-size pieces
½ cup speck or prosciutto, diced
1 ½ cups green lentils
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbs. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add a teaspoon of salt. Add the lentils and cook until just tender — about 15-20 minutes. Drain and then rinse under cool water. Allow to drain thoroughly.
2. Mix the lemon juice and olive oil and season with some salt and pepper to taste. Dress the lentils with the vinaigrette. Allow it to marinate while finishing the dish.
3. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Add a teaspoon of olive oil and sauté the speck until it begins to brown.
4. Then add the garlic scapes and cook for about three minutes. The scapes will turn bright green and begin to pop, so be careful.
5. Add the mushrooms and sauté until the liquid in the pan cooks off. Keep the mushrooms over medium-high heat until they are a golden brown. The scapes should be tender and slightly brown.
6. Meanwhile, preheat another large skillet over medium-high heat. Score the skin side of the salmon in several places to let it get crispy. Season both sides and sear in some olive oil, starting with the skin side.
7. When the salmon turns opaque about two-thirds of the way through (about 6-8 minutes) flip and sear the flesh side, about 3 or 4 minutes more.
8. Plate some of the mushrooms and scapes on the lentils and add some crème fraîche on top. Add the salmon and drizzle with more of the vinaigrette.