Contributed by Katy Morris
Have you seen the masses of curly, zany, bright green tangles mounded at your farmers’ market this week? Meet garlic scapes.
They may look like a cousin to scallions but they have a unique garlic taste. Although in the past farmers would get rid of them to preserve more energy into growing the bulb, they are now becoming a well-known and prized addition to a wide variety of dishes. And they are in season now, but only for a brief time. Look for them at your local farmers’ market.
I’m partial to normal garlic so why try garlic scapes?
Good question. We love our cloves too, but then again, we love changing up our recipes with fresh, local ingredients just as much. If you’ve seen them at your local greenmarket you may have dismissed these weird looking (twisty, curly, just plain odd) things, but they can really add a nice, light, and fresh (almost “grassy” if you will), garlicky flavor within almost any recipe you’ve got.
OK, you’ve hooked me. Tell me more.
Scapes are the shoots-slash-stems-slash-flower stalks of garlic (and of leeks, and chives and basically any other allium family member). The garlic bulb grows underground but shoots out scapes to soak up the sun.
When going to my local farmers’ market, what should I look for?
Even though the long, curly guys are enticing, usually the shorter and smaller ones are more tender (so we prefer them). Look for the greenest ones that catch your eye and that have some curl but not too much. Don’t forget to ask the farmer which ones they recommend – one of the many benefits of shopping at these markets.
Anything I should know about the nutritional value?
We all know garlic is a super health food, but their scapes also have a high number of antioxidants and contain much of the same elements of other allium veggies. Definitely a plus.
How should I prep them?
The whole thing is actually edible, but we usually get rid of the very tip and the pod since it tends to be more fibrous. If you aren’t using them right away, simply stick them in a paper bag and refrigerate (up to about a month). You can also freeze them up to a few months but note they will lose flavor as time passes.
What about the best dishes to use them in?
Use them in the same way you’d use scallions or garlic (try subbing them in this great couscous recipe). They can be blended into dressings or dips, pureed, sautéed, or simply used as a garnish. Note that the longer they cook, the sweeter they get. We highly recommend pairing them with fresh summer produce like spinach and zucchini.
Scroll up or click here to see our recipe for White Bean Spread (AKA Hummus) with Garlic Scapes. It is so easy and it comes together in minutes.