Tzatziki with Scapes

Scape afficionados rejoice! The whimsical curly shoots that spring from garlic plants in early summer have arrived at the market. (Note: When you get home, trim your scape-stems and prop in a tall glass or vase with some water at the bottom.) Since the first cucumbers are showing up, too, this week’s recipe is a local, seasonal take on Tzatziki , the Greek garlicky yogurt and cucumber spread. Allow this rough-hewn spread to chill for an hour before serving to let everything mellow and mingle. Serve as an appetizer with warm pita bread, as part of a medley of vegetable dishes for a mezze-like feast, or as an accompaniment to grilled meats.

Tzatziki with Scapes
2 cups thick Greek-style yogurt
1 long English cucumber, rinsed and partly peeled
sea salt, squeeze of lemon juice
4 to 8 tender scapes depending on size, about 2 ounces
4 Tbs. roughly chopped mint
3 Tbs. mild olive oil

Unless it’s very thick, drain yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined sieve or paper-lined coffee filter.  Partly peel cucumber, leaving green streaks. Halve lengthways and scrape out seeds. (Actually, the long English variety often has little in the way of seed.) Grate cucumber on the coarse side of a grater, insisting a bit to make nice shreds. Salt lightly and drain in a sieve for 15 minutes. Meanwhile trim tops and tough fibrous parts from scapes (compost trimmings.) Cut tender scapes into bean-size lengths, stack a few at a time, and slice into pea-sized pieces–you want roughly half a cup. Whizz scapes in a processor with chopped mint, a good pinch of salt and most of the oil, switching processor on and off to scrape down the sides. Add just enough oil to make a rough paste. (You can also bash chopped scapes and mint in a mortar with coarse salt, working in oil at the end.)

Add drained, squeezed-out cucumber to the yogurt and season with salt and lemon juice to taste. Stir scape mixture through the yogurt, leaving it somewhat streaky. Serves …hard to say,,,,anywhere from 4 to 8, depending.

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