Those who knows me, know I like garlic. (Even those who pass within ten feet of me likely know it.) So at this time of year the garlic plants enjoy teasing me with their long, pointed leaves waving in the breeze, hinting at the growing bulb of goodness buried beneath. And just when I think I’ll burst with anticipation, the plant offers a tender appetizer to hold me over: the Garlic Scape.
What’s a garlic scape? Well, glad you asked. The supermarket set likely has never seen a garlic scape, as these tender treats never make it to the produce section. But Farm Stand fans should be familiar with this spring treat that looks a bit like a coiled green onion with a tender bud on top. The texture is a bit like early asparagus, and the taste is a mild garlic, with just a hint of onion flavor.
A little botany lesson here: Garlic is basically a bulb (much like tulip and gladiolus bulbs) that are planted in the fall and come up early in the spring. As the garlic grows, the leaves shoot up strong and tall as the bulb matures in the soil. In the late Spring, nature’s survival instinct takes over and the garlic plant wants to send up a flower to both show off a bit and to produce seed and perpetuate itself.
However, we modern farmers don’t have much use for the seed as we plant the garlic cloves, which contain both the genetic material and stored energy the plant needs to regenerate itself. Of course, the plant doesn’t know we’ve taken this biological shortcut so it pushes up the flower stem, or “scape,” as it is has since Adam and Eve Garlic produced the first clove. Somewhere along the farming evolution, a curious (or very hungry) dirt scratcher discovered that these tender scapes made for some good eating.
The medicinal qualities of garlic have been touted for centuries, and the scapes carry with them the same nutritional benefits without the bite of the bulb. Scapes are highly prized and traditionally used in Asian, Eastern European and Middle Eastern cooking where they are included in soups, salads and stir fries, and as a garnish for a variety of dishes, lending tender freshness and just a hint of garlic flavor to whatever they are added to.
Okay … now for the sales pitch. If you’ve read this far into the post, then maybe you’re curious enough to come to the Dimond Hill Farm Stand and try the garlic scapes we’ve got for sale up here. For garlic lovers, it’s a must … for those looking to add a different vegetable and flavor to their menu, then here’s your opportunity. But you need to be quick about it. Like most good things in life, the scape season only last a few weeks and then they are gone for another year. So, come on buy and pick some up while you can.
Now for a couple recipes:
Garlic Scape Pesto: Tasty, Easy to Make, Freezes Well
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (to taste)
¼ pound roughly chopped scapes
½ cup olive oil
Salt to taste
In a blender or food processor, puree scapes, olive oil, and lemon juice until smooth. Gently stir in the cheese (blending cheese could make pesto gummy), and then adjust juice and add salt to taste. Note: Walnuts, pecans, pistachios, almonds, cashews or pine nuts, and/or basil or parsley can be blended into the pesto to vary the flavor and texture. Stores in the refrigerator for up to three days; keeps in the freezer for up to six months.
Garlic Scape Hummas:
2 cans of chick peas (garbanzos), drained
1 cup sesame seeds or tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup lemon juice
½ cup fresh chopped garlic scapes
Place all ingredients in a blender and mix on high until a thick paste forms. Salt to taste. Note: Can also add a bit of curry to the mix to vary the flavor.
Well, there you go … now you know what garlic scapes are and a little about what you can do with them. Garlic scapes make for some great seasonal eating, so what are you waiting for?
Now I’ve got to get out to the garden and pull a few for myself. All this writing has made me hungry, so I’m going to chop up some scapes, sauté them into my scrambled eggs with a bit of raw garlic, and then go and breathe on Jane.
Well, nuff said …