The farmer’s market tables are a little bare this early in the summer, especially for the local growers who are committed to sustainable practices. One of my most trusted growers, Greg Cowan (“The Tomato Guy”), was offering garlic scapes last weekend. We bought a dozen and later wished we’d bought even more.
Scapes are the flower stalks of garlic plants that emerge very early in the season. Growers remove these stalks so that all of the plant’s energy will go towards formation of the garlic bulbs. The scapes are considered waste by many growers, but they are edible (and rather tasty). They can be eaten raw or cooked. Raw, they have a mild garlic flavor. We chose to grill the scapes to use as pizza toppings. Baby Hippie and I loved them. The grilled texture is similar to asparagus, and the flavor is even milder than raw garlic scapes.
To grill garlic scapes, trim the bases and the ends just above the little flower bulbs (the pictures above are our first attempt – we should’ve trimmed those ends a little more closely to the bulb. The thin parts above it were not edible because of their texture after cooking) . Toss the scapes with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat a few minutes on each side, until the scapes soften. The more curled the scape, the longer it will need to cook in order to be tender. As you can see above, our scapes were nice and curly. We grilled them about 2 minutes per side, and they were a little too tough. They tasted fine, but they could’ve used another couple of minutes. We chopped the cooked scapes over grilled pizzas, and we also ate the scapes as a side dish.
I’m not going to crave garlic scapes, but they were a nice early-season vegetable. I love the idea of using part of the plant that would normally end up in the compost pile. Ask around at the farmer’s market this weekend to score a few garlic scapes of your own!