There are lots of wonderful uses for garlic scapes and one I love is risotto! Garlic scapes and sausage combine in this garlic scape risotto to make a dinner that has lots of yummy, crispy meatiness on one side and tender, mild garlic flavor on the other, all over a base of creamy rice.
I can’t believe that I’ve had this blog up for nearly a year and hadn’t added a risotto recipe yet! Various forms of risotto, like this garlic scape risotto, are a pretty standard weeknight meal around here. Sometimes vegetarian, others shrimp or leftover bits of roast chicken, but pretty frequently I use sweet Italian sausage as my meat of choice, and, of course, I always add a vegetable to keep things balanced. Garlic scapes here do double duty – they are a lovely and seasonal vegetable and they add in that garlic flavor you need in a risotto.
Or at least that I need in a risotto. It’s not dinner unless there’s garlic. (an old Italian proverb, okay not really but it could be 🙂 )
Not familiar with garlic scapes? They are the flower stalk of a hard-necked garlic bulb, and you can find them in local farm stands in the late spring to early summer. If you look at the picture up there, you will see that the stalks are very smooth until they get near the top where they bulge out and then taper to a point. That’s the bud of the garlic. You cut that part off before chopping up the rest of the garlic scapes. It’s the stalk part which you use in the recipe. Garlic scapes are wonderful and you can use them in any recipe where you would like a garlic flavor, such as pestos, stir fries, gratins, and risotto!
I will note that if garlic scapes are unavailable or out of season, the sausage risotto does make a great risotto base for any seasonal vegetable you have at hand (along with some cloves of garlic) all throughout the year.
One thing you might notice about my risotto method is that I’m fairly relaxed about it all. I don’t take the completely hands off approach of adding all the stock and letting rice cook undisturbed (it doesn’t seem like a risotto to me), but I’ve never found it worthwhile to stand and stir constantly either. That would be dull, is unnecessary, and I couldn’t work on the rest of dinner! So, add a decent glug of stock each time, stir occasionally, and get other things done while your rice gently cooks.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
- 4 sweet Italian sausage links (10 oz)
- 1½ cups arborio rice
- 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup white wine or vermouth
- 1 bunch garlic scapes, cut into ½ inch lengths
- 1 oz parmesan cheese, finely shredded
- Add the sausage links to a small saucepan, poke them with a fork, and cover them with water. Bring them to a boil on high, then lower the heat and let them simmer for 15 minutes. Drain the sausage and let them rest until they are cool enough to handle. Cut the sausage into thin (about ⅓ inch) rounds. Heat a medium skillet on medium-high and saute the sausage rounds until they are deep brown and crisp on both sides.
- While the sausage is cooking, put the rice into a fine mesh strainer and place the strainer over a medium saucepan. Pour the chicken stock over the rice to wash the starch off the grains and into the stock. Put the saucepan on medium heat and bring it to a simmer. Once it's simmering, shut off the heat and cover the saucepan to keep it hot.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large skillet or saucier. Let the butter foam up and subside and then add the onion and salt. Saute the onion until soft and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and saute for 2 minutes, or until it smells a little toasty. Add the wine wine or vermouth; simmer until absorbed, 1-2 minutes. Add the stock a ladleful or two at a time, stirring occasionally. Allow each addition to be almost absorbed (you don't want the rice to get dry and stick to bottom) and keep the rice at a very gentle simmer. The risotto will be done when you have used most of the stock and the rice just tender but not mushy, about 20-25 minutes. Taste the risotto and add more salt if needed.
- Take the risotto off the heat; immediately and vigorously stir the garlic scapes, the remaining 2 tbsp of butter, and the parmesan cheese into the rice. The risotto should be glossy and creamy. Add in the sausage rounds. Serve with a grating of extra parmesan over the top.
I like garlic and cheese Italian sausage when I can find it.
Don't feel any need to stand over the risotto as it cooks. Keep an eye on it so the rice doesn't get dry and stir it every so often. but the risotto will cook just fine without much attention.
Rinsing the rise with the stock isn't strictly necessary. If you like your rice toasted (as I have instructed here), then rinsing the rice will make sure your risotto is creamy at the end. (As discussed in this post by Serious Eats.) If you are not a fan of toasted rice, skip the rinsing step.