Garlic Scapes

This week we focus unabashedly on scapes, the curlicued shooting-stalks of hardneck garlic plants.  Their season is fleeting—fire up your food processors and grills! We like simply anointing garlic scapes with olive oil and sea-salt and singeing them on a hot grill or grill pan –just until they’re crisp, tender if you want to keep some of their garlicky flavor, or until limp and caramelized if you’re aiming for mellow sweetness.

Tip: Use just the tender stem parts, trimming off tough ends and top-knots. Keep stems whole for cooking, or cut into lengths that fit on your grill pan; you can cut them up into bean lengths, if you like, after cooking.

The go-to recipe for garlic scapes is a pesto. Here’s one we ran in the market’s early days before we had a website to keep recipes for you to browse. If you already know about scape pesto, you can find a second recipe online this week: a versatile scape and lemon drizzle, that goes nicely with fish—this week’s Cape Cod Fish Share bluefish for example.

Garlic Scape Pesto

  • 1/2 cup scapes (4-5 tender scapes) in pea-size pieces 
  • 2 Tbs. skinned, chopped almonds
  • 1 Tbs. chopped parsley or cilantro
  • 4 Tbs. or more olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbs. finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and freshly-ground pepper

Discard tough topknot from each scape, and any part of the stem that doesn’t cut easily. Cut tender, juicy stalks into pea-size pieces and drop them into a food processor, along with the chopped nuts and herbs. Whiz to a rough puree, stopping to scrape down sides as necessary. With processor running, gradually add oil until you get the texture you like. Mix in Parmesan and seasonings to taste. If not using right away, keep the pesto covered with plastic film. You can also store pesto in the fridge for a day or two, packed into a screw-top jar.

Use as you would a basil pesto on pasta, first mixing pesto with a little pasta cooking water. Add it to sandwiches, especially eggy ones (egg-scape sandwiches if you will) or simply spread it on a piece of baguette. Try it over a dollop of Long Lane Farm’s creamy goat cheese on toasted bread rounds (cheese available at Olio di Melli.) This is a small-batch recipe—double up quantities if you’re already in love with the scape’s fresh green garlicky (but not too garlicky) taste.

Garlic Scape and lemon drizzle

  • 1 nice tender juicy scape (1Tbs. finely grated)
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped parsley 
  • large  pinch salt
  • fresh ground pepper or pinch red chili pepper flakes
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • optional addition, nice with fish: Ω tsp. drained, rinsed capers

Trim scape: off with its little bulbous head and any tough pieces of stalk. Finely grate your scape—a microplane is ideal, a box-grater works, too. You want a good packed tablespoon of fine scape scrapings.

Finely grate lemon peel, yellow part only, on the same grater. Chop parsley as fine as you can. Combine scapes, lemon zest and parsley in a small screw-top jar, like an empty herb jar. Add salt and pepper, lemon juice and oil, close the jar and shake to combine. Taste, adjust seasoning: it wants to be fairly salty.

Add capers, if you like. Serve drizzled over grilled vegetables, fish, chicken. Try it with bocconcini—the small balls of mozzarella made by Fromage a Trois. Not bad over steamed potatoes either. Easily doubled. Left-overs can always be mopped with bread.

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