by Susan Wanderman
Garlic scapes are a delicacy that is only available for a short time in the Spring. While they may not be that well-known in some places, in others they have been used for a long time so as not to waste any edible part of a flavorful food source. The scape is the flower stem of hard neck garlic that is produced before the garlic bulb matures.They appear about a month before the plant produces its first leaves. The scape does not produce flowers, and it affects the growth potential of the garlic bulb if it remains on the plant. Garlic scapes have varying flavors, depending on the type of hard neck garlic grown.
The longer a garlic scape grows, the more fibrous it becomes. When picked early, the young tender shoots are delicious in salads. Even when they start to curl they can still be used in salads as well as in recipes requiring processing or cooking. I like the versatility of garlic scapes. They can be used in any way that garlic can be used, but with a milder flavor. They can be chopped as a topping, sautéed with greens, grilled, added to soups, stir fried, and processed for pesto, hummus and dips. They can even be frozen, for use in the cold mid-winter when a spring plant is so welcome. I like that we are using parts of a plant that might otherwise become compost rather than adding flavor to a meal. The dip recipe below is from The New York Times. It doesn’t require many ingredients or much time, and you get to choose the amount of seasoning.
1/3 cup sliced garlic scapes (3 – 4)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt (preferably coarse sea salt)
ground pepper to taste
1 15 ounce can of cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Using a food processor, combine garlic scapes with lemon juice, salt and pepper until finely chopped. Add beans, and process to a rough puree.
Slowly drizzle in olive oil through the feed tube, process until smooth. Add 2-3 or more tablespoons of water, as needed, until it reaches dip consistency. Add more seasoning, to taste.
Yield 1 1/2 cups