All About Garlic Scapes
Garlic scapes are the curly stems and unopened buds of hard-necked garlic. They are often cut off to allow the plant's energy to go towards the growth of larger, plumper garlic bulbs to be harvested in the fall.
These stalks are edible. They have with a mild garlic, slightly sweet, flavor and can be eaten raw without being overwhelming. In fact, eating them raw as the starring ingredient, as in a pesto, or as a complementary aromatic is recommended. You can also cook garlic scapes, but the mild flavor will get even subtler (though not lost completely).
Cut off the bud and the bottom end. Some say you can snap off the bottom where it changes from tender to woody, much like an asparagus stalk, but I've always found it sufficient to cut off the bottom ½-inch.
You can store scapes in a paper or plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for a few weeks. If you plan to keep them longer, you should chop them to the length you like and freeze them in a freezer bag (blanching is optional). Frozen garlic scapes will store for a few months, though flavor will be lost as time goes by.
Read more about garlic scapes at Mother Earth News.
Garlic Scape Pesto
I've been making a batch of this pesto every year since the first summer when I discovered garlic scapes. It's perfect on pasta, though you could spread it on bruschetta, dip in crudities, or throw a dollop on anything that needs it. If you can't figure out how to use it, this pesto freezes beautifully until you have need it. This is the original recipe from Dorie Greenspan.
10 garlic scapes, buds removed and and ends trimmed, finely chopped
1/3 to 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (to taste and texture)
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/4 cup olive oil (or more)
Salt to taste
Place the chopped garlic scapes, 1/3 cup cheese, almonds and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process until all the ingredients are combined. Taste for texture. If you think it's too chunky, add some more olive oil and process again. If you think it's too smooth, you can add more cheese. Once you're satisfied with the pesto, season it with salt to taste.
If you don't use it right away, cover the surface with plastic wrap to keep it from discoloring. Store in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for a few months.
Makes about 1 cup
More Ideas for Garlic Scapes
The simplest way to use garlic scapes is to add them as an aromatic to salads, stir fries or anything else you are making. You can use garlic scapes in place of scallions, shallots, or even garlic. Finely chopped garlic scapes also make a delicious garnish.
You can make pesto just with garlic scapes or mixed with Swiss chard or kale.
Garlic scapes work well with a variety of cooking techniques. You can roast them or grill them.
Sauté them with zucchini and summer squash.
Caramelize them and add them to a egg salad sandwich.
Pickle them in a quick brine or a lactic acid starter.
Puree into salad dressing: a simple one or maybe one with mustard.
Use garlic scapes to flavor vinegar, aioli, or a compound butter.
You could stuff naan with chutney.
Add them to okonomiyaki (savory Japanese pancakes) or spring rolls.
Garlic scapes can flavor this risotto-like orzo.
For a dramatic look, try them whole on top of pizza along with zucchini slices.
Add flavor to a white bean dip.
Add to pasta carbonara.
Toss them into biscuits.
For even more ideas, check out Canadian Gardening and Serious Eats.