They look like art—a sculpture of inviting green. Available only in farmers markets and gardens for a few weeks in June, their ephemeral nature and rarity only adds to their allure. If you are like me, you will spy them in the market and feel compelled to buy them even if you have no clue as to what to do with them.
More than vegetative art, the scape is the flowering stalk of hard neck garlic. Young tender stalks grow in beautiful curlicues, but as they mature, the stalks straighten and dry and the flowering bulb turns to seed. To direct the plant’s energy away from making seeds and towards producing a large, flavorful garlic bulb, the farmer removes the tender edible scape. Viola! My most coveted springtime treat with a taste nearly identical to garlic with a fresher, milder, more herbal quality.
What to do with it once you’ve brought it home? Well you could chop it up and add it to stir fry or perhaps pickle it, but I suggest that you make Garlic Scape Paste and add it to everything you would have added garlic…and then some.
- 1 bunch, about 14 scapes, flowers removed and stalks coarsely chopped
- ⅔ cup oil (olive, canola, grape or safflower are good choices)
- Remove the flower portion of each scape as it can be bitter. I like to save them and use as a garnish.
- In a food processor, add scapes and pulse until finely minced.
- Next, slowly pour in the oil while processing.
- Transfer paste to a glass or plastic jar with a tight-fitting lid.
- Paste will keep refrigerated for about 2 weeks. Add to recipes as needed. You can also freeze it.
Buy a few bunches at the market, make it en masse, and freeze. Place paste in a freezer bag, press flat removing as much air as possible, label and seal. If you freeze it flat on the shelf, you can break off bits of garlic scape paste as you need it as long as it lasts. Even if freezer real estate is an issue for you, put this on the A-list. It is a tasty time saver-—better-than-minced-garlic-flavor-at-the-ready.