Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Garlic Scapes: A Gardener's Delight

Freshly harvested garlic scapes
Garlic scapes are one of those rare treats that most people can only get by growing garlic.  Sometimes they will crop up at the farmer's market, but most folks wouldn't recognize them if they did.  I had never seen them in person until this year when I grew my own garlic. 

Garlic scapes are flower heads that hardneck varieties of garlic send up in mid-summer.  Softneck varieties of garlic (most of the ones in the grocery store) do not form scapes.  As a gardener, you want to cut the scapes off so that the garlic can focus its energy on creating a bigger bulb.  But don't let these garden delicacies go in the compost bin!  They are absolutely delicious.

Since this was my first season growing garlic, I wasn't sure how to cook the garlic scapes.  I went over to DigginFood, one of my all-time favorite gardening/cooking blogs, and used Willi's recipe for garlic scape pestoOhMyGod.  It was truly better than any pesto I have ever had, EVER!  If you can get your hands on some garlic scapes I can not recommend this recipe more highly.  Did I mention it takes about 5 minutes to make?  Yeah, it's awesome.

The pesto has just a few ingredients including the scapes, walnuts, Parmesan Reggiano, and basil.  Throw in some olive oil and a dash of salt, whirl it in the blender and there you have it.  The thing that makes it so truly amazing are the scapes.  They manage to taste sweet, garlicky, and grassy all at the same time.  I hope that you can find some scapes to try out this recipe, and if not, just plant some hardneck garlic next fall- it really is a cinch to grow!  After learning what I've been missing, I think I'll double next years garlic crop.

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