Thursday, June 18, 2009

Garlic Scapes - Another Seasonal Delight

Garlic scape is the flower stem of the garlic plant that, in my garden, emerges around mid June. It curls upward as it grows, ultimately straightening out and blooming. When the scape curls and forms a full circle, it is time to pick. After that, the stalk starts to get tough.

Farmers used to cut off the scapes and discard them so the plant would put all its energy into producing bigger and better bulbs. But scapes are starting to make an appearance at farmers' markets and CSA shares. The window of availability is brief, only about a week, so when you see them don't think twice. Take them home. They're versatile and delicious and have long been a part of Asian and Eastern European cooking. In most recipes, they can replace garlic, scallions and onions, but also asparagus and green beans because their flavor is so subtle.

The whole stem is edible except for the flower bud. The buds are quite tough and should be removed in certain recipes. For stir fry and pasta dishes, I cut the stems into 2" pieces, composting the flower buds. When I pickle, roast or grill them, I like the way they look with the buds attached. There are hundreds of recipes on the internet, mostly for garlic scape pesto. I haven't made the pesto yet but can't imagine it would be bad.

This week I harvested 3 lbs of scapes and, for a quick supper for two, made this dish with rotini pasta, about 20 garlic scapes, a handful of just picked asparagus, feta cheese and kalamata olives. Quick, easy and satisfying.

Pasta with Garlic Scapes, Feta Cheese and Olives
2 cups dry pasta (any kind)
2 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
20+ garlic scapes, cut into 2" pieces, discard the flower buds
1/2 lb asparagus (or any other vegetables), cut into 2" pieces
1/4 cup Feta Cheese
1/4 cup Pitted kalanata olives.
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp hot pepper flakes, or to taste
salt and pepper

Cook pasta until al dente, drain and save a cup of pasta water. In the same pan that you cooked the pasta in, add a tablespoon olive oil and bacon, cook until bacon is brown and crisp. Remove from pan and set aside. Add garlic scapes to the same pan, cook and stir for two minutes, then add the asparagus with a splash of pasta water, cook until vegetables are tender about 3 more minutes. Add hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add the pasta and mix well, add pasta water if too dry, adjust seasoning, top with bacon and serve. Serves 2.

With the rest of the harvest I made Garlic Scape Pickles. I used my favorite Dilly Bean brine, added a little sugar (to take the edge off the acidity), ten or so chili peppers and cilantro with roots attached. Two weeks in the fridge and they'll be ready to eat.

Pickled Garlic Scapes with Hot Peppers and Cilantro

Here are links to more garlic scape recipes:
The Garlic Scape: Eat It or Wear It
Clagett Farm Notes
Down on the Farm

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La Dolce Vita said...

what a fabulous blog! i just planted garlic this year and I will watch it closely!!! Thanks so much!

Ting said...

So glad you stopped by.