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Monday, May 18, 2015


It's garlic scapes season!!! 

They have finally arrived at the Webb City Farmers Market, this year! The season is always brief and fleeting, but fantastic while it lasts! 

Last year, I had a cooking demonstration at the Webb City Farmers Market on All Things Scapes, and appeared on the "Cooking With Carol" segment of Living Well on KSN 16. Here is the link: Cooking With Carol: Frank About Food & Garlic Scapes

A few years ago, I heard about something called garlic scapes. I had never actually seen them, or had the opportunity to try them. They were never offered at our local Webb City Farmers Market. I inquired from a vendor family about them. They told me they tried offering them at the market, but no one had any clue what they were or how to utilize them, so they went unsold. 
Then, a couple of years ago, a friend of my wife had posted on Facebook about getting her hands on some scapes at the Freight House Farmers Market in Davenport, Iowa. I had my wife find out the name of the vendor, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on some scapes the next weekend while visiting her family in Davenport, from One Acre Produce. My mind ran wild with ideas on how to use these gems!

After first inquiring about them, they began gracing vendor tables in quite an abundance, last year. How about a little information on what garlic scapes actually are? 

Garlic scapes are the leafless stem that shoots up from the garlic bulb that produces the flower of the garlic plant. When first emerging, the scape curls, with a slight bulge toward the top of the stem. To achieve the best growth and formation of the garlic head, and cloves, these scapes need trimmed within a couple of weeks of appearance. Many farmers take advantage of these scapes and sell to the "in-the-know" culinarians, or foodies, at local farmer markets. Many others, including the southwest Missouri farmers, can't find a viable market for these, and will just utilize them in their kitchens, or enhance their compost piles. Scapes become available only one time a year: late spring and early summer. A very short-lived season, coupled with great versatility, make garlic scapes a highly sought after item in many markets. 

The scapes are only truly good when curled, with the very slight bulge (see above picture). Once they begin to straighten, or flower, they become too woody, and lose much of the desired flavors. Two years ago, when I started seeking them out, locally, I found the scapes pictured below, at the local farmers market. Very cheaply priced, I thought I would grab a small bundle to see if there was any good in them.... I can tell you... NO! 

The flavor within a garlic scape can be described as a cross between a scallion, or green onion, and garlic. I'm not gonna lie to you... it is sharply garlic. You know... the kind of garlic that bites your tongue. However, I am from the school of thought about garlic never being too much. One of my favorite quotes is by Emeril Lagasse: "Once I was asked, 'Emeril, how much garlic is too much?' I replied... 'Dunno... ain't been there, yet!'"  If you eat garlic scapes, definitely double, triple, up on breath mints, that day! 

Some preparations really calm down some of the bite of the scapes. As I said before, garlic scapes are very versatile. Here are just a few ideas of things you could do with garlic scapes: 

  • chop into short lengths and saut√© them as a side dish
  • chop them and toss them raw into salads
  • chop into short lengths and toss into a stir fry
  • toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and grill them
  • substitute them for garlic in hummus recipes
  • use them as an aromatic herb in recipes
  • pickle them and store them for months to come
  • a delicious, yet unusual preparation as a garlic scape tart
  • a garlic scape pesto
When preparing garlic scapes for cooking, be sure to trim off the tops, just below the bulge. I used my two bundles to prepare a garlic scape pesto. As with any other pesto, there are a lot of ways to prepare it. For garlic scape pesto, you could use the scapes as a substitute for basil, or mix half and half with some herb, such as basil, dill, arugula, spinach, or chervil. For the nut component of the recipe, you could use pine nuts or walnuts. Below is the pesto recipe I have evolved, and adjusted accordingly to my desired outcome. 

Garlic Scape Pesto

1/2 C chopped scapes

1/2 C baby spinach
1/4 C walnuts
juice & zest of 1/2 lemon
3/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste
1/4 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Place scapes, baby spinach, lemon juice & zest, salt and pepper into the bowl of a food   
     processor, pulsing until all chopped and incorporated well. 
3.  Begin drizzling in the olive oil as you continue to pulse, or run, the processor, until you 
     reach a desired consistency.
4.  Scrape the pesto into a bowl, and stir in the Parmesan cheese. 

Frank's Notes:

1. Pesto can be frozen. If you are going to freeze the pesto, do not add the Parmesan
    cheese until you are ready to thaw and serve the pesto. 
2. Freezing will mellow the sharp garlic flavor of the scapes in the pesto. I served mine
    fresh, but it did have a substantial bite, at first. The longer it sat in the refrigerator, the 
    more mellow it became. 
3. This pesto can be served on toasted breads, or tossed in with hot pasta. It can also be 
     tossed in with a cream sauce for pasta. A small round of toasted baguette, topped with   
     some pesto, and finally topped with a grilled shrimp makes for some amazingly simple,
     yet elegant appetizers at a gathering. 

Garlic Scape Tart
1 C whole wheat flour
1 C all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
12 Tblsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4-5 Tblsp ice water

1 C thinly sliced garlic scapes
2 large eggs, beaten
1 C ricotta cheese
1 tsp fresh lemon thyme leaves (or 1 tsp thyme + 1/2 tsp lemon zest)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1.  Place the fours and salt in bowl of food processor. Pulse to combine. 

2.  Add the butter and pulse until butter is pea-sized. Sprinkle 4 Tblsp ice water onto the
     dough. Pulse until the dough holds together. If it is too dry, add some additional ice water
     to pull it together. 

3.  Take dough out, and shape into a flattened disc on plastic wrap or parchment. Wrap and 
     refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

  4.  Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll the dough into a 12 inch circle, about 1/4 inch thick. Press
     into sides and bottom of 10 inch fluted tart pan. Prick entire bottom with a fork, and line
     with a sheet of parchment paper, and fill with dry beans or pie weights. 

5.  Bake for 10 minutes, then remove pie weights and parchment, cooking for 7 minutes 

  6.  Place the scapes, eggs, ricotta, lemon thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Beat
       until well combined.  Pour filling into tart shell and return to oven for 30 minutes, until
       filling is set. Cool to warm or room temperature before slicing and serving. 

Frank's Notes:
1.  If you use a larger tart pan, such as an 11 inch, you can just increase the eggs and
     ricotta by half more. For example, use 3 eggs and 1.5 C ricotta.

Your turn: I want to hear some feedback from you guys. Have you heard of scapes before? Have you cooked with scapes before? Let me know... Let me know if you have a favorite preparation for garlic scapes! 

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