August 02, 2010

What to do with Garlic Scapes

You might have noticed these curly, chive/scallion-looking things in the produce section of your grocery store recently.

Those are garlic scapes, shoots that grow out of heads of garlic, like this:

Until recently, only farmers and hippies knew what garlic scapes were or what a garlic scape recipe might look like. I only came into contact with them a few years ago, when my darling friend P brought me some from the farm where she worked at the time, and told me to try grilling them.

Other than that brief encounter with garlic scapes (an es-SCAPE-ade, if you will), I hadn't really tried doing much with them. I knew they were delicious, and offered a slightly milder garlic flavor, but I was too bewitched by beets and sweet potato fries to think about experimenting with garlic scape recipes.

On my recent trip to visit mon papa in Minneapolis, though, I'm happy to say that I learned more about just how versatile garlic scapes are. 

By mincing the scapes (use a food processor--garlic scapes are really fibrous and hard to chop) and mixing in some olive oil, salt, and pepper, my dad came up with a delicious topping to go with Ritz crackers and cream cheese.

He also combined more of the minced scapes with what I'm pretty sure was an actual ton of melted butter in order to prepare a riff on the traditional garlic bread. The flavor was light and slightly less...well, garlic-y than normal garlic bread, and the color was really gorgeous once the bread had gotten all toasted and golden around the edges.

P has also made me a delicious pesto that featured garlic scapes instead of garlic, which she tossed into a pasta and pork sausage dish that was mind-numbingly good.

The point here is that you can use garlic scapes for just about anything. Mince them and stir them into sour cream with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and you've got a perfect dip. Grill them with a little olive oil and seasoning, and you've got a perfect side dish. The other bonus is that they're definitely milder than garlic, which will make some garlic haters out there (my grandmother, for example) happy.

So go buy some garlic scapes, and you can be that guy who gets to say "You've never heard of garlic scapes? Oh my goodness, I absolutely swear by them." at your next dinner party. Food snob win!

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