If you’re visiting Sulmona and its surrounding villages in the Peligna Valley, one veggie delight you’re likely to have served is Zolle, in English known as ‘Garlic Scapes’. These are the stems that pop out of your garlic bulb June/July depending where you live, bloom and whose resulting tiny seeds you can eat. In true Abruzzese fashion where nose-to-tail eating is standard, even with garlic, these floral, moreish shoots have become highly prized delicacies and outside the region and country they’re gaining in popularity as more and more people discover them.
At market you’ll be able to recognise them through their florescent joints & serpentine like coils that have been tied together in a bundle that call to be un-sprung. If you’re in Sulmona in July have a look at the Campo di Fano page, a small village close to Prezza, nicknamed the balcony of Abruzzo who have a sagra dedicated to the area’s famous garlic and zolle, Aglio di Rosso, each year (in 2019 it runs from 12-14th July).
Zolle Recipe Suggestions
I’ve had zolle snipped into a skinny frittata, served with broad beans and mint, used instead of cloves of garlic in Spaghetti alla Vongole (clams) and served as delicious finger long pickles alongside antipasti. The best recipe for turning them into pickles seems to be boiled vigorously for 5 minutes in equal measures of white wine and vinegar, dried overnight and then left to marinate in sterilised jars of olive oil with aromatic herbs that will last till the following Spring.
DiMarino are small local producers that sell Sulmona’s famous red garlic online as well as jars of zolle sotto olio. They have an enticing array of recipes on their website for delicious dishes that you can create with garlic scapes. I have a fascination with Italian tarts & pies and their Sulmonese ones on their site conjure up romantic visions of Italian family picnics on the beach, eating slices by the sea…
- Cut your zolle in half and finely chop (avoid the woody bottoms!) put in a mixing bowl. If you are looking for an extra sweet flavour blanch them quickly first for 3 minutes before drying thoroughly.
- Grate your 2 cheeses and mix in with your zolle.
- Add salt, pepper, milk and a dribble of olive oil into to beaten eggs.
- Mix well into your zolle and cheese mixture
- Place 1 sheet of pastry in a round or rectangular pie tin and add your mixture on top. Add your pastry lid on top and crimp the edges in. Make 2 holes in the centre and brush with beaten egg.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven for 35 minutes until golden brown.