If you get a CSA, or amble through the Farmer’s Market in Early summer, you will undoubtedly encounter these curled, elegant stems, bundled and ready for action. But do you know what to do with them?
Garlic scapes are the stems and flowers that sprout up from bulbs of hardneck garlic as they grow underground. Farmers know that these sprouts are draining energy from the desired bulbs, and that letting the garlic flower will cause the garlic to focus on flowering and spreading seeds. So, before the flower buds have time to get too big, the farmer lops off the stems, which are called scapes. Then, instead of wasting them, they bundle up the greens and sell them.
Like squash blossoms, garlic scapes appear briefly, and should be snapped up for a unique and rare treat. So, what do you do with garlic scapes?
What Do You Do with Garlic Scapes?
These scapes have a mild garlic flavor, and the structure of a denser, sturdier scallion. They are “hardneck” garlic stems, so they are solid all the way through. The bunch I bought had been picked while slender and small; sometimes the scapes are allowed to get a little longer, with bigger flower buds that these. The smaller ones are preferable. If the garlic flowers are big, they should be trimmed away, and the mature stems are more fibrous and tough.
For more about garlic scapes, click here. Like onions, they are nutritious and full of antioxidants.
In this recipe, I grilled my garlic scapes. You can also roast them, for a similar effect. You can also chop them up and puree them in a food processor for a pesto or a flavored butter. Once they are pureed with a little olive oil, you can stir the puree into a soup, salad, or saute. Or, you can mince them and saute them with other vegetables, as you would scallions.
I think they are the prefect excuse to grill. Use the grill for meal prepping in summer- just grill some veggies, and you are set up for a few meals. These garlic scapes can be a side or topper for dinner, and while the grill is hot, grill some zucchini, onions, peppers, whatever you have, and once it has that taste of char, put it away to add to tomorrow’s dinner.
Grilled Garlic Scape and Minty Chickpea Salad
- 1 bunch garlic scapes
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 leaves kale
- coarse salt
- 1 15 ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives chopped
- 1 cup fresh spearmint chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- Preheat the grill. If using a charcoal grill, build the fire on one side. If you have a grill mat, use that.
- Place the scapes and kale in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Place the scapes and kale on the grill, and reduce the heat if you are using gas, down to low.
- Turn the scapes and kale as they cook, it will only take a few minutes to soften and brown the scapes, the kale will cook very quickly. Transfer to a plate.
- In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, tomatoes and olives. Add the mint, then stir the lemon, lemon zest, olive oil and salt in a cup, and pour over the chickpea mixture. Toss to mix. Chop the grilled kale into crumbles.
- Serve the salad topped with coiled scapes and kale.