[a medicinal cooking blog: using food as medicine to treat whatever may ail you]

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Star of Early Summer: Scapes

Last year around this time in June I posted about garlic scapes, which I used to make a marinade for a slow cooked goat leg. This year I've been experimenting with all sorts of young green Alliums out there, ramps (which are in essence a wild leek but are similar to a scape), onion scapes, and of course garlic scapes. Scapes can arise out of any of a number of plants and are considered a flowering leafless stem. Not all are edible but if you catch them early enough and they come from the onion genus (Allium), then you're in luck! Onions and garlic are incredibly medicinal and healing foods. Onions in general work to lower blood pressure and decrease cholesterol, alleviate dysentery, induce sweating, and treat the common cold. Garlic acts as an antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, enhances digestive capabilities, has diuretic properties, and relaxes the blood vessels (i.e. decreases blood pressure). Scapes are the the pure young essence of all these properties and are excellent for ridding yourself of any lingering winter ailments. The bonus to a scape is the flowers popping out on the top, which taste like a concentrated savory onion. In Chinese Medicine flowers are considered to have a more dispersing effect, which means they are particularly good for treating colds and flus as well as skin disorders.

I chose to experiment with an onion scape (courtesy of Kinnikinnick Farm) that had bolted and was technically considered past it's youth and prime in the farming world . Meaning, it wasn't as delicately flavored and instead had more kick and spice to it. I cooked it in with slow braised pork chops until they shredded, along with a few potatoes from the Fall season to give the sauce body, salt and pepper to taste, and some absolutely amazing lambs quarters from Three Sisters Garden (considered a weed) that literally tasted of what the descriptive word GREEN would taste like if it jumped into a vegetable! I used the scape flowers (pictured at the top), which have an incredibly delicious onion punch, to make a light, vinegary, and kickin' drizzler sauce when the dish was plated. We served the braised pork with a poached duck egg and baked purple asparagus.

Pork Chop Braise with Lambs Quarters and Onion Scapes

Ingredients (serves 4)
lambs quarters (2 large handfuls)
2 large thick cut pork chops with bone in
1-2 onion scapes & flowers
olive oil
6 small potatoes
rice vinegar

1. Brown pork chops in olive oil, add minced onion bulb from scape, save flower and a bit of the green stalk for sauce.
2. Cook on low heat, adding about 1 cup of water for about 1 hour. Add peeled and chopped potatoes in and cook for another hour.
3. Wash and strip lambs quarters leaves off of stem, add to pork when it has begun to shred and is almost done. Salt and pepper to taste.
4. Make sauce: mince or just simply pluck off little flowers into olive oil (1-2 tbspns), rice vinegar 1 tbspn (substitute with good quality white wine vinegar if you desire), salt and pepper. Add 1 tbspn of minced green stalk from scape, using the portion closest to the flower so it's relatively tender.
5. Poach duck or chicken egg and serve over pork with a sprinkle of sauce on each dish.

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