Ingredient Spotlight: Garlic Scapes

garlic scapesGarlic was our first love. It's certainly one of the most universal go-to ingredients in our arsenals. We're all familiar with the golden cloves, simmering in oil, imparting their special perfection to any number of dishes, across pretty much every cuisine. If we have a lifelong love affair with garlic, then we'll just have to call what we have with the Garlic Scape a "spring fling". The wild, ropy, bright green garlic scape is the fresh shoot that grows out of the garlic bulb as it matures, young and tender with a tightly closed bud at the top. Like scallions or leeks, the green of the garlic scape is brighter, fresher, somehow rowdier than the meat of the garlic bulb and can be eaten raw or cooked. Toss them in olive oil and a little salt and pepper and grill them and they'll be charred in spots and just the right amount of soft, and their flavor will have sweetened and mellowed dramatically. If eaten raw (as in the recipe below) beware: the garlic scape renders some of the most potent garlic breath we've ever experienced. Tossed with fresh pasta or spread on crusty bread, believe us, it's well worth it. Garlic Scape Pesto

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped garlic scapes*
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • A few generous grinds of black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • *Or use half scapes and half herbs such as basil, dill and chervil

In a small, dry pan set over very low heat, lightly toast the pine nuts, stirring or tossing occasionally until just beginning to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Combine the scapes, pine nuts, lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse about 20 times, until fairly well combined. Pour in the olive oil slowly through the feed tube while the motor is running. When the oil is incorporated, transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the grated cheese. If you plan to freeze the pesto, wait to add the cheese until after you've defrosted it.

Image from Kristel Mesh, recipe, and 5 other things to do with garlic scapes from The Crisper Whisperer.