They are a gourmet delight and one of those uncommon items I would never have eaten had it not been for Linda stashing them into one of my first CSA baskets five years ago.
Garlic scapes — that stalk from growing garlic that shoots straight up and makes one or two loops before being lopped off. Some garlic growers consider it waste; to keep it on the plant would mean all of the garlic’s energy going into the scape or flower, instead of the bulbous root of which bad breath but wonderful aromatic flavours are made. Others, like Linda, see it for what it really is: Food.
Scapes start rearing their lithe, curly selves right about now. Their season is so short that while once a clueless scape neophyte (I guess you could call me a scape goat of sorts, being fed all these unusual veggies by Linda), I now clap with delight when Linda puts some in my CSA basket and smack my lips at the thought of their mild, garlicky flavour. They are also really quite beautiful to behold with their smooth green skin, curvy shape and tapered tops — just another one of nature’s often under-rated and misunderstood masterpieces.
The long, snaky, firm green strands are delicious made into pesto, chopped into a stir-fry or, done in my favourite way, sauteed.
Being more than a little green with garlic scapes five years ago, I relied on Linda’s recipe cards to guide me with this unusual, new discovery. To this day, this is still one of my favourite side dishes to make:
The heat seems to caramelize the vinegar, adding a subtle layer of sweetness to the scapes, whose flavour becomes even milder and their texture even softer as they’re cooked. If I’m using my usual unsalted goat’s milk butter, I will sprinkle a bit of salt on them at the end. They don’t stay long on my plate once served up. Truth is, many don’t even make it to my plate. My mouth tends to get in the way as I transfer the scapes from stovetop to tabletop.