Garlic Scapes

Opening our veggie box each Tuesday has become a simple little ritual in mindfulness. Even though I typically know in advance what’s in there, I can’t help but get excited as I carry our box into my kitchen. I wait until my kids are busy and I have a quiet moment to lift the lid and peek inside. It’s the way that the ordinary is transformed into little treasures, as though the box itself imparts some quaint magic upon its contents. I love discovering the sights and scents that are tucked here and there - a little bunch of parsley, the earthy smell of parsnips, the hopeful package of mixed lettuces. And while simply being in the veggie box makes any produce special, there are some treasures that I covet more than others. Sometimes it’s seeing a first: the first cucumber or jewel toned eggplant of the season; and sometimes it’s seeing treasure itself: for me that’s any tomato, kohlrabi, celeriac, or garlic scapes.

Over the past month, I’ve been pretty ecstatic on the few occasions where I’ve opened our foil pouch of frozen goodness to find carefully nestled garlic scapes inside. I wait with patiently frenzied hope for the day when I will lift the lid of our CSA box and be greeted by a tumble of fresh garlic scapes springing up to greet me. I watch my own garden daily, quietly urging those scapes to form. The thing is, a lot of people aren’t all that familiar with garlic scapes.

Sometimes we’re wary of vegetables we haven’t used before, and this wariness can trick us into thinking there’s something weird, lesser, scary, or difficult about those vegetables. Yet when we start broadening our view, we wonder how we ever lived without these ingredients. This is very true for garlic scapes.

Garlic scapes are the stalks that grow from the bulb of hardneck garlic (which you will see from time to time in your veggie share). The scapes are removed to prevent the plant from diverting growth and energy away from the bulb; their removal helps the bulb to thicken and develop. Garlic scapes taste like garlic, but are often more mild. Not only are the delicious, but they are incredibly versatile. They can be eaten raw or cooked, and work well fresh or frozen (if you’re using frozen scapes, you’ll probably want to cook them). Rather than talking about the many ways you can use garlic scapes, it’s probably easier to talk about the ways you shouldn’t. You shouldn’t use them to top a pecan pie, for starters. They might not work well added to a batch of granola. You probably don’t want to use them to top your yogurt. Well, unless you’re making a savory yogurt dip, in which case you totally want to add them to your yogurt.

Truly, garlic scapes can be added to almost any savory dish you’re making. When fresh, they’re great on top of salads, sprinkled over eggs, folded into dips, tucked into sandwiches, even pickled. Both fresh and frozen are delicious in any cooked egg dish, in stir fries, sauteed, in risotto, grilled, over pasta, added to soups, or in a crispy pancake. They aren’t a fussy ingredient that requires a special recipe. If your recipe would appreciate garlic, your recipe will appreciate garlic scapes. For dramatic flair, grill or roast them and leave them whole. For convenience, chop them as you would scallions. And while you don’t NEED a recipe to incorporate them into your life, there are so many good ones that I can’t help but throw them out there.

First up...ten great ways to enjoy garlic scapes, per Bon Appetit. And then...

Garlic scape and parsley risotto …because garlic and parsley!

Garlic scape soup (if you’re a lover of recipes, or garlic, you’ll want to drink this one up.)

Garlic scape pancakes, for when you’re feeling fancy.

Garlic scape and arugula flatbreads, because YUM,

Seven more ways to use garlic scapes here…

Grilled garlic scapes, for the beauty of it.

Garlic scape dip, which I’m making immediately.

And if you don’t like any of those ideas, you must not like garlic. (Is that a thing? Does that happen?). Happy eating!