Ever wanted to learn how to cook garlic scapes? Good news! This creamy leek and garlic scape rigatoni is the perfect introduction.
Have you ever cooked with garlic scapes before? If you’re looking to learn how to cook with garlic scapes, read on! These delightfully curly late-spring aromatic are a serious wonder ingredient. If you see them at the farmer’s market, you have to try some!
What is a garlic scape?
Basically, the garlic scape is the stem and flower of the garlic bulb. Think of it like the green part of the scallion. Garlic actually has two harvests – late spring and late summer. In the spring, farmers cut off the tender stem of the garlic and they are sold as garlic scapes.
They have to cut the stem off otherwise the garlic plant will spend too much energy trying to grow its stem and flower and less time on the bulb itself.
What does a garlic scape taste like? Like garlic, of course! They can be a little spicier than your standard garlic cloves. Use them anywhere you would normally use garlic. You can even mince them and toss them with chopped herbs, extra virgin olive oil, and pine nuts to make garlic scape pesto!
How to Make Creamy Leek and Garlic Scape Rigatoni:
This recipe is quite easy and really lets the garlicky garlic scape shine! The key to this recipe is to not let the garlic, leek, and parsley mixture to cook much longer than 15 minutes, otherwise you will lose that beautiful green color!
First, sauté a leek until it begins to soften. Next, add minced garlic scapes and parsley. Then, throw in some white wine or stock and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Add heavy cream and season with salt and pepper. That’s basically the entire recipe! Toss it with cooked rigatoni, baby spinach and you’re just about done. We served our rigatoni with a garnish of pine nuts, parsley, and lemon zest for a touch of brightness to complement the creaminess. Can you believe how easy this recipe is?!
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Creamy Leek and Garlic Scape Rigatoni
- Wide pot
- Large pot
- Food processor
- Small skillet, optional
- Immersion blender, optional
- 16 ounces rigatoni ½ cup pasta cooking water reserved
- 2 teaspoons neutral cooking oil
- 1 leek trimmed scrubbed, and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2-4 garlic scapes depending on your preference for how garlicky you’d like to dish to be
- 1 cup fresh parsley leaves 10-12 leaves reserved for garnish
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup dry white wine or vegetable stock plus more as needed
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 ounces baby spinach optional
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest reserve the lemon for another use
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rigatoni and cook until 1-2 minutes under al dente. Remove ½ cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain the rigatoni and set aside. Note: Try to time this so that your rigatoni finishes cooking right as the sauce finishes.
Cook the leek:
- Heat oil in a wide pot over medium heat. Add the sliced leek and cook for 7-8 minutes until it begins to soften. Melt the butter into the leek and cook 1-2 minutes more.
Prepare the garlic scapes:
- As the leek cooks, combine the garlic scapes, parsley, and extra virgin olive oil in a food processor and pulse until finely minced.
Cook the sauce:
- Add the minced garlic scapes and parsley to the leeks. Cook for 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour in the white wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Finish the sauce:
- Pour in heavy cream and stir to incorporate. Cook for 2-3 minutes until it begins to thicken. If you like, use an immersion blender and pulse until smooth and creamy. Taste and season to your preferences.
Finish the rigatoni:
- Add the reserved pasta cooking water, the rigatoni, and the spinach if using. Toss to combine and cook for 2-4 minutes until the rigatoni is glossy and al dente and the spinach is wilted. Taste and season to your preferences.
Prepare the garnish:
- In a small skillet, add the pine nuts and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook, tossing regularly, for 1-2 minutes until toasted.
- Transfer the pine nuts to a bowl. Tear the reserved parsley leaves and add them to the pine nuts. Add the lemon zest and extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
- Divide the creamy leek and garlic scape rigatoni between bowls and garnish with the pine nuts. Enjoy!