Garlic Scapes are the immature flower stalks of the hardneck and elephant garlic varieties that appear in late spring and early summer here in New England. Gardeners and farmers will cut these long, curly-Q spikes so that the garlic bulb will be able to harness most of the plant’s energy and nutrients for maximum production. (Garlic scapes are seldom seen in grocery stores as they tend to be ignored by highly mechanized, large scale produce operations.)
Garlic scapes have been plentiful these past few weeks at regional farmers’ markets, and are relatively inexpensive. They taste like a fresh garlic clove only with a much more subtle essence. I suggest using scapes as you would scallion or fresh herbs. They can be sliced on the bias and sauteed in some good olive oil or roasted in the oven. They can also be used in place of basil when making fresh pesto.
And just like cloves of the garlic, the scapes are a good source of vitamin C and possess compounds that reduce harmful metabolic inflammation which can increase risk for heart disease and cancer.
I recently cleaned out my produce drawers and refrigerator, after two weeks with family and house guests visiting to make a veggie pot-luck saute. I chopped up half a vidalia onion and sauteed it in olive oil, adding chopped garlic scapes, red and orange bell peppers, torn bits of kale, a small habanero pepper, minced, and leftover steamed broccoli, chopped. The pan held a colorful array of veggies, emitting a savory fragrance. (My only regret is that I neglected to take a photo!) I ended up piling this mixture on a whole grain pizza dough that I rolled out and topped with mozzarella and parmesan.
Every summer I do prepare one garlic scape recipe that’s both easy and uber nutritious. I serve this spread with whole grain crostini or crackers and use any leftover to help fill a sandwich filling with sliced tomatoes.
Garlic Scape & Cannellini Bean Spread
You can make this a day or several hours in advance of serving. If I have time, I like to soak dried beans from scratch as they really have a nice texture and flavor. I soak dried beans overnight in a bowl of water, covered. The next day I drain, rinse and cover with water in a pan, bring to a boil and simmer for about 45 minutes.
1/2 cup sliced Garlic Scapes (about 3-4)
Juice of a Lemon
3/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt
Fresh ground black Pepper to taste
1.5 cups or 1 can (rinsed and drained) of Cannellini* Beans
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil+
*Certainly, try this recipe with ANY legume, edamame, chickpea, etc.
In food processor, blend garlic scapes with lemon juice, salt and pepper until finely chopped. Add cannellini beans and blend further to a rough puree.
With motor running, drizzle olive oil through top of processor. Scrape down sides of bowl and resume blending until fairly smooth. Serve in bowl with a drizzle of olive oil on top and a few chopped scapes if desired.