Garlic Scapes: Grow it! Eat it!
This is the first post in a new series about growing, harvesting, cooking, and eating various plants in your garden called Grow it! Eat it!. There are a number of edibles that gardeners eat plenty of, but that you may not see in the grocery store. If you do happen to find them at the market, they will be available for perhaps a short period of time, so it’s nice to know what to make with these yummy treats when you find them. We will start with garlic scapes.
If you planted garlic last Halloween with me, then by mid to late June you should have an abundance of curly stems decorating the garlic bed. These are the flower stalks of hardneck variety garlic plants and you will want to remove them for two reasons:
First, removing the scape diverts the plant’s energy into making a bigger bulb below the soil. You want that.
Second, they are yummy! With a mild garlic flavor and the texture of a firm asparagus, they are a delightful vegetable to eat. You want that too.
Harvest garlic scapes by snapping the bottom of the flower stalk as close to the top leaves as possible. They should snap as you bend them just as you would snap the end off of a stalk of asparagus. I like to do this just as they start to make one complete circle to ensure they are nice and tender.
Okay, so now what do you do with those garlicky curlicues? If you have plenty, then sautéing them is a nice treat. you can cut the scape up into small pieces and add to any sautéed vegetable dish, stir fry, or on their own with some olive oil, salt, and pepper.
I like to make up a big batch of pesto so that I can add it to my dishes throughout the year. As you can imagine, it imparts a nice garlic flavor with just the right amount of sweetness to pair with pasta and veggies.
Walnut Garlic Scape Pesto
- 2 cups roughly chopped garlic scapes
- 1 cup toasted walnuts
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
- Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese (reserved)
Put all of the ingredients except the cheese into a food processor and pulse to combine into a smooth paste. Add more olive oil for a smoother consistency and add salt/pepper to taste. If you plan to use this pesto right away, add the grated cheese and blend together for a few more seconds.
If you plan to freeze a jar or so of this pesto, don’t add the cheese at this stage. Pack the pesto into freezer canning jars and label. When you thaw the pesto to use it in the future, add the grated parm then.