Garlic Scapes 7 Ways

Apr 2015

Eating local and in season is a great way to work towards a more sustainable lifestyle. I had never heard of garlic scapes before a visit to the Roslindale Farmer’s Market in Boston. Consider me an immediate convert! Scapes are one of the first delights of the spring season. They appear from the garden for just a short period of time and that is part of their delicious appeal. You might think they look similar to chives on steroids, as they are the firm, round flowering stalk of hard neck garlic.

What to eat now for spring-Garlic Scapes

 Unlike softneck garlic which is found in most grocery stores, hardnecks  are closer to wild garlic, with complex flavors that pick up on regional varieties of  soil and weather patterns of the region, a certain terroir.  They are more fragile and should be eaten within 6-10 months. Spanish Roja is a well known best seller. Scapes grow out of the ground, off of the garlic bulb. The flower at the top starts with a chive like bud form. When they’re young and tender, they look like curly green stalks with tightly closed bulbs on top. Farmers and gardeners harvest them at this time of year so that they won’t drain nutrients from the garlic bulbs when they are dug up in a couple of months, plump and delicous, ready for drying.
 garlic scales from the farmer's market

Because of their versatility, you’ll have the option of vegetable, aromatic, and even herb all rolled into one. They must have had 15 different varieties when I stumbled across them for the first time. Flavors run the gamut from mild and sweet, to a fiery variety sure to make your eyes water. If you get some from your CSA, or find a giant pile of them at the farmers’ market, grab a handful {they seem to run about 10/$1.00} and give one of these ideas a try.

  • 1. Scape Pesto
    By far, my favorite use for garlic scapes is pesto, either straight-up or mixed with herbs like basil and parsley. Pesto showcases raw scapes in all their glory. Scape pesto, by itself, can be very pungent, so for me it was better mixed with other herbs. I think I will be in heaven when I defrost some in the dead of winter.
  • 2. Grilled Scapes
    Another great, and very different, way to showcase scapes is to grill them, tossed with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, over direct heat for about two minutes. Flip them once, halfway through, and finish with an extra sprinkle of flaky salt and maybe a bit of lemon juice and zest. They’ll be charred in spots and just soft enough, and their flavor will have sweetened and mellowed dramatically. Grilled scapes are surprisingly reminiscent of asparagus. Be careful not to overcook.
  • 3. Scape Hummus
    For the same reason they work well in pesto, scapes are a brilliant swap-in for garlic in your favorite homemade hummus. I think they work especially well in a lemony, tahini-free hummus, which really gives them a chance to shine.
  • 4. Scape Compound Butter
    Scapes would make a lovely compound butter with a little lemon and maybe some fresh thyme. You could use the butter to make a jazzed up garlic bread, or as an addition to some grilled swordfish.
  • 5. Scapes as Aromatic
    To take a more utilitarian approach, you can slice scapes to whatever length you like and use them as you would chives, as an aromatic in a wide variety of recipes. Scapes lose a lot of their bite when sautéed, more so than garlic cloves, so use at least three or four times as much scape as you would clove.
  • 6. Scapes as Vegetable
    Scapes also work well as a vegetable, cut into lengths and added to stir-fries or blanched and added to salads, much as you might use asparagus.
  • 7. Scape Soup
    Well it wasn’t really scape soup, but i tried a handful in my gazpacho recipe and it added a touch of delicious je ne sais quoi. Raw garlic has a tendency to fight with my stomach, but I found none of that same irritation when I used the scapes raw.
garlic scapes and mushroom ravioli
A simple sauté in EVOO over some mushroom ravioli with the addition of grated parmesan, made a simple easy dinner.
If you’ve got a favorite way to use garlic scapes, please share it in the comments. Scape season is upon us and it’s time to celebrate this unique taste’s arrival.