There’s one vegetable that doesn’t seem to be readily available anywhere except the local farmer’s market—the garlic scape.
Garlic scapes are the “flower stalks” of hard-neck garlic plants, although they do not produce flowers. When scouring the farmers market for a perfect bunch of scapes, look for those that are lightly curled. If you’re cutting from your own garlic patch, try to snip before or immediately after that first curl on the stalk. Don’t pull: always cut. The younger the scape is when it is plucked, the lighter the flavor. Longer and curlier scapes have a hotter and more intense garlic taste. The season for garlic scapes is very short, so keep your eyes peeled in late spring, or you could easily miss your chance.
Using garlic scapes
Remove the stalk tip above the pod before using your scapes; the pod and tip are quite a bit more fibrous than the stalk. Chop young, tender scapes into salads or use them as a topping, as you would use scallions. They’re wonderful in potato salad, dressings, salsa and guacamole or when made into a fresh aïoli. More mature garlic scapes can be sautéed lightly and added to stir frys, pickled or essentially used in any dish that would be complemented by garlic. Scapes also make a dramatic garnish, but perhaps the most popular way to use them is to make a garlic scape pesto.
GARLIC SCAPE PESTO
Yield: 3/4 cup
1 cup garlic scapes (about 8-9 scapes) cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup walnuts or pine nuts
3/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon unrefined salt
Black pepper to taste
Place scapes and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor outfitted with the S-blade and process until fairly smooth. With food processor running, slowly drizzle in oil and process until integrated. Transfer mixture to a medium sized bowl. Add nutritional yeast, salt and pepper to taste; toss to combine. Garlic Scape Pesto will keep for up to one week in an airtight container in the refrigerator, or it may also be frozen.
GARLIC SCAPE PESTO MAYO
Yield: 1/4 cup
3 tablespoons Garlic Scape Pesto, from recipe above
2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
Combine until smooth. Garlic Scape Pesto Mayo will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator.
Do you have a fun, fabulous original recipe you’d be willing to share? If so, please send your gem to [email protected]. Preference will be given to vegetarian, low-glycemic, wheat and dairy-free concoctions.
Garlic scape storage
• Garlic scapes keep well in cold storage, though freshly cut scapes taste the best. You can keep scapes in the refrigerator for a month or more in a paper bag in the crisper drawer.
• Scapes freeze well, too—you can blanch them or freeze them raw—although they tend to lose some of their garlicky heat during long storage below freezing temperatures.
• Garlic scapes may also be pickled, ensuring you get a taste of the famer’s market long after the summer heat is gone.