Growing up, I was friends with some wonderful people of Italian heritage. I learned so much in that time: homemade gnocchi, various pastas, the beauty of eggplant and fennel bulb. Things I wouldn’t have normally been exposed to in my largely Hungarian-influenced household.
This is the beauty of Canada. So many cultures living together without finding reasons for war. We embrace our differences and learn from each other to enrich each others’ lives.
One simple pasta dish I learned at this time was a simple Garlic Broccoli Spaghetti. You basically steam the broccoli over the simmering pasta water as the spaghetti cooks. While it steams you rub a bowl with a couple of halved cloves of garlic and the garlic essence “perfumes” the dish when you add the cooked pasta and steamed broccoli. A light drizzle of Italian olive oil with a sprinkle of coarse salt and pepper and the dish is done. If you wanted a more pronounced garlic flavour, you finely minced the garlic that you used to rub the bowl and added it along with the pasta and broccoli.
I thought in early to mid summer there is always an abundance of garlic scapes, the flowering stalk of the hardneck garlic variety. These green bean-like vegetables have a beautifully mild garlic flavour when steamed and thought it would stand in nicely as the “spaghetti” in a salad. And since I tend to use ingredients as close to home as possible now, I used a wonderfully nutty cold pressed flax oil as the accent oil for this salad.
Broccoli and Garlic Scape Salad
For the steamed vegetables:
1-1/2 cups broccoli florets, stems left long and attached (I prefer first of the summer fresh broccoli for this when the stalks are rather thin. You can also use broccoli rabe)
1-1/2 cups fresh garlic scapes, cut into 6cm/3″ lengths (discard bulbous portion with pointed tip end of the scape)
Bring a pot of water to a boil and set a strainer over the top of it. Add the broccoli and garlic scapes. Cover with a lid and steam for 7-10 minutes depending on your desired doneness.
When the vegetables are steamed place them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process, set the green colour and cool.
For the salad:
Cooled steamed vegetables
1/2 tsp cold pressed flax oil
Pinch, each, coarse salt and pepper
Divide the steamed vegetables over two plates. Lightly drizzle each with a little bit of flax oil and finish with a few granules of coarse salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.