Garlic Scapes are currently fresh at the farmers' market, but what do you DO with them?
(Updated post.) I set a food-blogging challenge for myself a while back: I decided that EVERY time I went to a Farmers' Market, I had to buy an item of produce that 1) was in the peak of its season and 2) I'd never cooked with before. This was great because it made each trip to the FM feel like an adventure. Unfortunately, it also backfired because I got burned out from doing the challenge every week and started avoiding farmers' markets! D'OH!
But I'm back, and ready to tackle the occasional Fresh at the Farmers' Market ingredient. This visit's seasonal item? Garlic scapes. Have you ever wondered what to do with garlic scapes? I sure did! When I first tried this challenge, not only had I never cooked with scapes, I had no idea what they were. Nevertheless, I came home with a bunch and duly fired up the interwebs to find out.
What are garlic scapes?
Garlic scapes, I learned, are fresh at the farmers' market from late spring to early summer. Scapes are gnarly, twisty little space-alien-looking dudes that are the green shoots that grow up out of the garlic plant. Cutting the shoots increases the yield of garlic bulbs, which are ready for harvest about 2 months after the scapes.
My first move when I got my goodies home was to slice off a little piece for a taste. Okay...garlicky. What a surprise. But, I realized, it was a much milder garlicky flavor, and it also had a pretty neat texture. Almost like scallions and garlic had a child.
What do you DO with garlic scapes?
What to do with these things? I decided that a reasonable place to start was by using garlic scapes for anything that I might do with...well, garlic. So I first sliced them into thin little rings and added them to an herby-mustardy vinaigrette dressing . I put it onto a salad with my freshly snipped garden lettuce and BOOM. Wow. It tasted like summer in a bowl.
Phil is not the biggest fan of vegetables, but even HE thought the garlic scapes knocked the flavor of the salad out of the park.
"What are these things again? Snapes?" I laughed as I imagined the tragic Hogwarts professor in miniature, swimming in my salad bowl.
I should explain. The hubster has the most ADORABLE habit [rolls eyes] of inventing alternate names for people, places, foods, and inanimate objects. (I put up with it because I'm the queen of alternative song lyrics.) For instance, the aforementioned tragic potions master was renamed "Steve" during our family's Harry Potter binge-watching fest (Dumbledore was "Dumbledumb"). And so, following the laws of the universe-according-to-Phil, in our house, garlic scapes are now SNAPES.
Next, because garlic scapes have a flavor and texture that lies somewhere in between scallions and garlic, I added them in place of the scallions in this potato salad recipe. As a result, the potato salad had an interesting, delicious complexity that you just don't get from humble scallions.
Finally, because I had a bunch of scapes left and I wasn't sure how long they'd last, I combined them with some basil and parsley from my garden to make a gorgeous pesto. The resulting sauce was the most amazing, verdant green that you can imagine. And the taste...well, let's just say that if the color green had a flavor, it would be THIS. Really. Delicious.
Now that I've been eating these gnarly little guys all week, I have to admit: I'm going to miss them when they're not in season anymore! They add an unexpected complexity to a whole array of dishes, simply by using them in place of garlic. I have all kinds of ideas for new and different ways to use them, and I didn't even get to try scapes in stir-fry, which is how the kind lady at the Farmers'Market stand suggested I use them in the first place!
If you haven't already tried garlic scapes, I highly recommend them as a way to introduce some really fantastic seasonal variation into your cooking repertoire. Even Phil is a devout convert.
But he still calls them snapes.
Here are those recipes again:
|Garlic Scapes Vinaigrette Dressing: garlic scapes add an unexpected crunch and bright, garlicky-oniony flavor to any salad. Also great with meat and fish, or as a dipping sauce for bread.
|Traditional Potato Salad: used in place of scallions, garlic scapes give an unexpected, delicious crunch and a garlicky-scalliony bite to everyone's favorite classic potato salad.
|Garlic Scapes Pesto: a delicious, verdant sauce that’s perfect on pasta or for topping soups, dipping bread—and much more.