If you've been by the stand over the last few weeks, you may have seen quart boxes full of strange, curly, alien-like vegetables sitting next to the more familiar lettuces and radishes. These strange greens are called garlic scapes, and they are the unopened flower stalks of hardneck garlic. They need to be snipped off so that the garlic can concentrate all of its energy into growing big juicy cloves instead of flowers. Luckily for us, they taste amazing!
Method #1: On the Grill. My favorite way to describe the flavor of garlic scapes is "garlickly asparagus." The curly stalks have the nice, crisp spring freshness of new asparagus, but with a garlicky punch. Because of that, they can be used in several of the same ways as asparagus. For example, one of our favorite ways to make garlic scapes is also the easiest: just toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and throw them on the grill! You have to be a bit careful that they don't fall through the grate, but trust me - they are worth the practice.
Method #2: In the Pan. You can also chop them up and saute them in olive oil, then mix them into pasta or use them to top pizza. One of our go-to meals is to mix sauteed garlic scapes with cheesy tortellini and sweet Italian sausage for a quick and hearty main dish.
Method #3: Use as a Substitute for Garlic Cloves. Chopped scapes make a great substitute for garlic cloves, especially during the early summer when local garlic is still unavailable. We use chopped garlic scapes in chili, stir fry, and other meals that call for chopped garlic. Just make sure to use more scapes than you would garlic, since their flavor is a bit milder.
Method #4: Make Garlic Scape Pesto! This is our favorite way to preserve the fresh garlic taste of scapes to enjoy throughout the year. The process is basically identical to making basil pesto - just throw everything in a food processor or blender and whip it together! This pesto can be used fresh, or can be frozen in glass canning jars for later use. Whether you are keeping it in the fridge or freezer, make sure to top the pesto in the jar with a little olive oil to keep it from browning.
Garlic Scape Pesto from Little Salmon Farm:
1 quart garlic scapes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts, blanched almonds, or walnuts
4 Tbl lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. If the pesto is too thick, add more olive oil.
Serving Suggestions: Use as a sauce for fresh pasta or pizza, or as a topping for baked chicken or fish. Serve with goat cheese or mozzarella on a sliced toasted baguette for a delicious appetizer.
Method #5: Freeze for Later! You can also freeze chopped scapes in glass jars or plastic freezer bags to use later. No need to blanch - just chop and freeze! These are great to use as a substitute for garlic in recipes like chili and stir fry (see Method #3 above.)
A Tip for Using Scapes: Just like asparagus, the bottom end of the garlic scape can get tough and woody over time. To remove the woody section, bend or pinch the stem starting from the cut end until you reach a bendy, tender section. Then snap or cut the stalk to remove the tough part.
What is your favorite way to make scapes? Let us know in the comments, or send us a message! We love scapes and are always looking for new ideas to try!