First of all, what is a garlic scape? It is the flowering portion of the a garlic plant; it is a very long and green stem, which is loopy in appearance and has a little bud on top. The scape is discarded in order for the garlic bulb to grow properly, and until recently, the scape has been fed to the pigs or placed in the compost heap. I've seen a lot of scapes at the markets this summer, and we will still have them for a week or so. Garlic scapes have a mild garlicky flavor, almost reminiscent of roasted garlic in mellowness, but without the sugary taste. Scapes have a texture similar to green beans, and they take a little cooking to soften up.
My general rule is to cut the scapes into one inch batons and add them after the onions in a dish and before the mushrooms - just to say that the cooking time is somewhere in between the two. I think you can put scapes into any dish where you would put garlic - although I view it just as another veggie, albeit a flavor-packed one.
- My personal favorite way to enjoy scapes is in stir fry (as pictured above, with broccoli, sugar snaps, plump early red onions and their stems) and leftover chicken, along with a good spoonful of garlic chili paste). You can add them to practically any stir fry successfully - spicy or sweet.
- Scapes are also nice in pasta; I put them this week with hot Italian sausage, escarole, and green bell peppers.
- A lot of people make scape pesto, with scapes in place of basil. This is a fine idea: personally, however, two suggestions when making pesto. First of all, scapes can come out of the food processor a little stringy, so I like to cut them into 1/4" discs before blitzing. Secondly, although they are mild, I still like to blanch the scapes for a minute and then shock them before making the pesto, just to ensure a mellow flavor.
- Toss the entire stem with a little olive oil and salt and throw on the grill. Don't bother cutting them up, you can use a knife and fork. They'll make a fun addition to the plate.
- Cut into 1/2" pieces and and add to soup.
- Cut into 1/2" pieces and blanch one minutes, shock, and then add to salads.
- Chop the scapes, toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and top meat or chicken with them.
- Chop and saute until lightly browned with a few chopped onions, then make a frittata or omelet.
I hope I've given you a few ideas to use up those garlic scapes this year. They are always available from Just This Farm and Elizabeth Telling at the North Market, and From My Garden at the Worthington Market (in the Graeter's parking lot). Happy eating!!