Garlic Scapes: What Are They Anyway!?

by June 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm 2,126 0

"Garlic Scapes"

Garlic Scapes. (Chelsea Rinnig)

From Chelsea Rinnig. Email her at chelsea[AT}

Did I mention I work at the farmers market? Yep, and as I check folks out with all their bounty, many are baffled by the relatives of traditional, bolder garlic and onions: garlic scapes. Shallots, leeks and chives, once relatively uncommon, have been popularized and are regulars on our plates.

But my new favorite of the bunch that has solicited the most questioning and bug-eyed stares are the sprawling garlic scapes. Twisting like vines out of boxes at many of the market’s vegetable stands, they’re up there with kohlrabi in the weird factor.

Most will pick up a bunch as an impulse purchase, but few realize how powerful these tall-stemmed garlic really are. I find that one strand is enough to compensate for three or four cloves of garlic, and certainly leaves the same potent fragrance as its cousin. One advantage the scape has, though, is that it is much easier to deal with.

Garlic scapes require no peeling or crushing and can simply be chopped from the stem to the base of the small bulb (which, though edible, can be a bit more bitter than stalk).

Include garlic scapes in place of normal garlic and reduce your prep time (and meticulous mincing frustrations) dramatically. If you’re at all like me, you totally splurged, went for the bundle of garlic scapes and now have more than you know what to do with. I took this as an opportunity to make a new pesto — garlic scape pesto is bold, bright and flavorful, and can use the entire stalk of the scape without waste.

This recipe can easily adapt for various food allergies by omitting nuts and/or substituting with sunflower seeds. I have seen a few recipes include vegan cheeses or ricotta as an option as well. For those looking to play around a bit, try adding a few basil leaves, parsley or any other fresh herb and see how the flavor profile changes.

Pesto is great to have on hand for those nights when you just don’t have the energy to do more than boil pasta. I even put my pesto on top of brown rice or quinoa, chill it for cold pasta salads or spread it over toast on an egg sandwich. What did you do with your garlic scapes? Let me know and I’ll give it a shot too!

Ingredients and Prep

  • 1/2 lb. garlic scapes (about 15 scapes)
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice from half a lemon
  1. Roughly chop the garlic scapes before combining all ingredients into a food processor or blender.
  2. I also like to add a little zest for the lemon before I juice it as well.
  3. Serve immediately over cooked pasta or store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

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