There is one early summer seasonal treat, that I cannot let slip by unnoted and that I have been enjoying for some time now and even stocking away in the freezer for a taste of summer sun next winter…Garlic Scapes!
I have to publicly declare my unfaltering love of Garlic Scapes (despite their impact on my breath)! Garlic scapes, those odd little serpent-like curlicues, are the under appreciated tops of garlic.
Garlic, the king of the allium family, comes in two main types, soft-neck or hard- neck, based on how they grow. Soft-neck garlic grows well in warmer climates and does not have a hard central false flower stalk. It stores well, can be braided, and consists of up to a dozen cloves, with smaller ones in the center of the head. Up north in Maine we have hard-necked garlic. Every fall my mother (and our neighbor Steve) plant a huge crop of bulbs and then wait until spring to see the garlic stalks peeking out of the ground. In late June, this central stalk shoots up to form a flower. This curly pig-tail shaped flower is the Garlic Scape! If left undisturbed the scape will develop bulblets (yes they are called bulbets) which would drain energy from the roots and impact the garlic. So every year my mother and I snip off the scapes in order to get better garlic in the late summer.
Every year I see people perplexed by Garlic Scapes. People stare at the funny green stalks wondering what on earth they are and what the heck they are going to do with the three bunches they just got in their CSA share. A co-worker was convinced they were weeds. But every time I see this confusion, I jump in as the Garlic Scape cheerleader: “They are delicious!” or “Just use them like Garlic” or “They are tasty I swear!”
Garlic Scapes are tender and bursting with mild garlic flavor. Take a couple of scapes and dice them up like scallions and toss them into a stew, stir-fry, omelette, or whatever for a subtle hint of garlic in less than half the time it would take to peel and dice a mature clove. They are divine left in their full twisted chaotic glory and drizzled with olive oil, a bit of salt and pepper and fresh herbs and accompanied by whatever else you can find in the fridge or garden (like red peppers) and grilled or roasted for a bit in a hot oven. They add interest to hummus. The small ones are tender enough to go into a lovely Ceasar salad. Or chop them up and use as a last minute garnish for any number of dishes—wherever a sweet hint of garlic would be compatible.
But my absolute favorite way to enjoy garlic scapes is to make them into a luscious pesto and serve it over fresh homemade pasta. The pesto can also be used on chicken, as a spread and any way that suits you!
Garlic Scape Pesto with Walnuts
- 15 Garlic Scapes
- ½ cup Toasted Walnuts
- ¾ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- ½ Tsp Sriracha (aka Rooster sauce)
- ½ cup Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Optional: A pack of breath mints for afterwards…
- Food Processor
1) Place the Garlic Scapes and walnuts in a food processor and pulse until diced.
2) Add the Parmesan and Sriracha and pulse until combined.
3) Turn the processor on and pour the olive oil in with a slow steady stream. Combine until smooth.
4) Try the pesto and add salt and pepper to taste