Jewels of Summer: Garlic and Basil
We've been patiently waiting for the garlic in the OEC demonstration garden to be ready. The time has come!
Growing garlic requires patience. Often planted in the autumn, garlic isn’t ready to harvest until the following late summer, when its leaves begin to droop and turn brown. However, because garlic takes so much patience to grow, it’s often one of the most anticipated crops of the year. In the fall of 2011 the OEC planted a bed of one softneck variety, Nootkarose, and two hardneck varieties, Chesnok and Killarney garlic. We harvested all three varieties on July 18th this year. About a month before the garlic was ready, we harvested a beautiful crop of garlic scapes, the green and serpentine flowering shoots of hardneck garlic varieties. Harvesting the scapes helps direct the plant’s energy back towards growing big and delicious garlic bulbs, instead of putting energy into producing a flower. Plus, garlic scapes are delicious!
After our garlic harvest we bundled the garlic heads with stalks attached and hung them in our office’s basement (any cool and dry place with good air circulation will do) to cure so as to prevent decay in storage. After a few weeks the garlic’s neck should be tight and its skin is dry – signs that our harvest has been cured long enough and is ready for storage. A perfect paring for freshly harvested garlic is basil, another precious product of summer gardening. Our bed of Genovese, Thai and Purple basil has been growing strong since we planted healthy organic starts in late May.
Celebrate the late summer garlic harvest with the pesto recipe, below! You can also watch a slide show of photos of garlic and basil from the OEC demonstration garden at Luscher Farm – we hope it inspires you to grow your own!
From Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 T. pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
Pinch of salt
½ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
2 T.freshly grated romano cheese
3 T. butter, softened to room temperature
1. Briefly soak and wash the basil in cold water, and gently pat it thoroughly dry with paper towels.
2. Put the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, chopped garlic, and an ample pinch of salt in the processor bowl, and process to a uniform, creamy consistency.
3. Transfer to a bowl, and mix in the two grated cheeses by hand. It is worth the slight effort to do it by hand to obtain the notably superior texture it produces. When the cheese has been evenly amalgamated with the other ingredients, mix in the softened butter, distributing it uniformly into the sauce.
4. Serve over pasta, spread it on your favorite sandwich, or freeze to enjoy later in the year.