There are many fresh foods that I didn’t know existed until we started our farm, including radish seed pods, stinging nettles, kale buds and garlic scapes.
In the early spring we dine on steamed shoots from over-wintered kale (they taste like broccoli) and nettles sautéed in butter or pureed into soup. With June comes scape season, as our fall-planted garlic sends up tender stalks. These stalks will (if you let them) harden and grow seed heads. We prefer to encourage our garlic to put its energy into producing a big bulb rather than seeds, so we snap off these scapes once they’re about a foot long.
Still tender, lightly sautéed scapes taste like asparagus with a mildly-garlic flavour. Other popular recipes shared by our market customers and CSA subscribers include garlic scape pesto, scape butter, and roasted vegetables with scapes cut into bite-sized pieces. Making garlic scape jelly is a top-priority on our farm: it tastes like mincemeat and is amazing as a spread on a baguette.
Scapes keep for weeks and weeks in a bag or container in the fridge. And they freeze well, even un-blanched. This winter we sautéed scapes as a side dish, and they provided welcome green colour (and garlicky flavour) to our meals.
Hardcore garlic fans chop and use raw scapes like they would green onions, but beware: raw scapes can be very, very strong.
Garlic scapes are available at our farmers’ market booths through June. Scape season is short, so be sure to fill your fridge and freezer!
Ken’s One-Sentence Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe
Put garlic scapes in a food processor with olive oil, parmesan, nuts (expensive pine nuts, Cowichan hazelnuts or unsalted, cheap peanuts), and optional basil.
Valerie’s Garlic Scape Kale Pesto Recipe
1 cup garlic scapes (about 8 or 9 scapes) cut into 1⁄4-inch slices
3-5 leaves lacinato (dinosaur) kale, tough stems removed and then slice into sideways strips
1/3 cup walnuts, pecans, or pine nuts (toasting these adds a nice twist)
3/4 cup olive oil
around 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
black pepper to taste (optional)
Place scapes, kale, and nuts in the bowl of a food processor and grind until well combined and somewhat smooth but not purely pureed. Slowly drizzle in oil and process until integrated but there is still some “chunkiness”. Transfer mix to a mixing bowl. Add parmesan, salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 1-1/2 cups of pesto. Keeps for up to one week in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Or transfer to an ice-cube tray and freeze to be defrosted and used one cube at a time at your leisure. The latter approach makes scape pesto available even in mid-winter, when it can make a scrumptious dish.