Garlic scapes are probably one of the more alien-looking vegetables you might encounter, with their twisty stems that curve in all directions, over and around, and around again, finished off with tiny garlic top-knot heads. For those whom are not familiar with this veggie, they are simply the stem leading up to the seed-head of the growing garlic plant. When the scapes are cut from the garlic plant, the garlic can send more energy back down into the bulb, to grow a bigger bulb for harvest later in the season.
Garlic scapes are one of my favorites in the category of wacky vegetables, and I always enjoy being creative in my usage of them in the kitchen when they appear each season for their limited harvest time.
From a nutritional perspective, they pack a similar punch to garlic cloves, which are without a doubt one of the more medicinal veggies you can choose to cook with. Garlic is know to help prevent heart disease, to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, and to even be effective in prevention of cancer. Garlic (and garlic scapes) are also known to boost your immune system and reduce inflammation.
Garlic scapes can be used in virtually any recipe that calls for garlic, as the taste is similar. Sautee them up in your veggie stir-fry, add to home-made pasta sauce, blend up and use in a freshly-made dressing, chop and add to soup, but mostly, enjoy the limited time that this eccentric delicacy visits your kitchen each year.
Here are two great garlic scapes recipes:
Oregano Roasted Beets with Garlic Scapes
By Grace Dickinson
10-12 medium beets, cut into thirds
5 garlic scapes, diced into 1-inch pieces
1 heaping Tbsp. fresh oregano (about 5 sprigs, leaves stripped from stems)
Olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place garlic scapes and beets on baking sheet, and toss with drizzle of olive oil, until lightly coated. Sprinkle fresh oregano, salt and pepper on top. Use another sheet of aluminum foil to cover the beets, and pinch the two sheets together to make a pouch. Bake 40-50 minutes, until beets are fork tender.
Garlic Scapes Pesto
by Mary Jane Butters
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp. fresh lime or lemon juice
¼ lb. scapes
½ cup olive oil
Salt to taste
Puree scapes and olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Stir in Parmesan and lime or lemon juice and season to taste.