Garlic scapes are at the Dupont Market now. I bought a bright, beautiful and firm bunch last Sunday-and had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with them! But first things first. I had heard of these ‘curls’ or ‘scapes’, and I know that they are a spring delicacy-but what are they, exactly?
Garlic, and the rest of the Allium family (onions, leeks, chives), grows underground. As the bulb forms and begins to harden, it sends a shoot through the soil, above ground. This green tendril of hard-neck garlic is the garlic scape, or curl, as they are called at Next Step Produce, where I bought them. The scape is cut, or pinched, so that the garlic can use all of the energy of the plant to grow fully.
Scapes are thought to have a mild garlic taste, without the ‘bite’ of garlic cloves. This means, you can flavor any dish with this green tendril in the same manner you would use garlic or onion. Try tossing chopped scapes into a salad or omelette, or frittata. Make hash browned potatoes and toss them in towards the end of cooking to retain their crunch.
From what I’ve read, the most popular use for the garlic scape is pesto. The best part of making pesto from the scapes is the ability to freeze it. Simply portion the pesto into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, remove the pesto from the ice cube molds and store them in a plastic bag in the freezer.
You can use the pesto in pasta dishes, omelettes, frittatas and on bruschetta or crostini. Think how nice this would be for an impromptu gathering!
Garlic Scape Pesto
- 1 bunch garlic scapes or curls, washed and ends trimmed
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts, finely ground
- 3/4-1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Blanch the scapes in simmering water for 4-5 minutes, or until the just begin to yield when lifted out of the water. Remove them immediately to an ice bath to stop the cooking and retain the bright green color. Dry thoroughly.
Chop the scapes in a food processor until they are fine. Add the cheese, nuts, salt and pepper. Turn the food processor on and stream in the olive oil until desired consistency. Adjust seasoning to taste.