What they are:
Those swirly, curly green stalks with tightly closed buds on top that you are seeing farmer’s markets or in your CSA box right about now — those are garlic scapes. Botanically speaking, scapes are any leafless flower stalks of a plant that grow directly from the root, hence garlic scapes are the tops of the growing garlic plants. Farmers and gardeners harvest them at this time of year so that they won’t drain nutrients from the garlic bulbs that will be dug up in a couple of months, plump and glorious and ready for drying. The scapes themselves are sweet and herbal and redolent with garlicky flavors. The texture is similar to a very firm asparagus, with the snap of a good green bean.
What to do with them:
Garlic scapes can be can be used wherever you would use garlic or green onions. Try them roasted, grilled or sauteed in butter. Thinly shaved and eaten raw in a salad. Blitz them with olive oil and parmesan for a fragrant and pungent pesto. Also very excellent pickled.
What some chefs are doing with them right now:
At the eco-friendly Maine lodge Birchwood, Jenny Simon recently served up a radish top and garlic scape soup from produce gathered in the inn's own garden. At Bella Nashville we were intrigued by a peach pizza with pork and garlic scapes for brunch. In Philly, at the enigmatically named vegan spot Charlie Was A Sinner, scapes are blitzed with Canary and lemon drop, cucumber, and sherry vinegar for a refreshing gazpacho. Northern Spy Food Co in NYC had a recent special of tempura-fried Long Island blowfish tails with garlic scapes & aioli. And Chien Noir Bistro in Kingston, Ontario, is serving up grilled octopus and striped bass with tiny potatoes, snap peas, asparagus, garlic scapes, urchin butter broth, and malted mayo.
What great scape dishes have you spotted? And what is your favorite way to prepare them? Check out our recipes for Garlic Scape Pesto
and Pickled Garlic Scapes