Garlic’s Early Gift: Scapes
By Analiese Paik
Garlic scapes are only available for a very short season and it’s a mistake to pass them over. The scape is the stalk of hard neck garlic and is harvested while young, curly, and flexible so it’s still edible. Farmers trim them off to direct all the plant’s energy to growing a big fat bulb underground. Don’t buy scapes that have straightened; by that time they’re tough and inedible.
Visit your local farmers’ market or farm stand to buy some before the season ends. Garlic scapes taste like garlic, but are much milder and add a unique flavor to stir fries, eggs, and soups.
I love to buy a large quantity (or just take the plentiful ones in my CSA) and make garlic scape pesto in the food processor, substituting them for basil in a traditional pesto Genovese recipe (see below). I then freeze some of it for the winter as a pick me up. The pesto is great simply spread on some good artisan bread It’s makes a great addition to sandwiches or tossed with pasta. Farmer Patti Popp at Sport Hill Farm in Easton, my CSA farmer, likes to add a spoonful or two to yogurt to makes a fresh dip.
Garlic Scape Pesto
This recipe requires no cooking, just a quick rough chop of the garlic scapes and a few minutes in the food processor. If you’ve never had it, you’re missing out on a seasonal delicacy!
- A dozen garlic scapes (usually sold in bunches)
- about 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
- Sea salt
- Wash and rough chop the garlic scapes. I like to cut off the immature seed heads (bulbils) and reserve them for sauteeing or stir frying. Whether you do this or not, be sure to cut off the last few thin, pointy inches of scape off the top because it tends to be tough.
- Fit the food processor with a metal blade and secure the bowl.
- Add garlic scapes, pine nuts (or walnuts), and olive oil to the food processor along with a pinch or few grinds of salt.
- Close lid and puree until chunky or fine (your preference), stopping from time to time to scrape down the bowl and lid.
- Scrape pesto into a bowl and add cheese, stirring just enough to incorporate. Taste and add just enough salt to make the flavors vibrant.
- Serve on pasta, pizza, bread or stir a few spoonfuls into yogurt for a dip (a tip from Patti Popp of Sport Hill Farm).