Have you ever tried sautéed garlic scapes before?
A few years ago, I was at the South Pearl Street farmer’s market (one of my favorites) in Denver, buying produce from a stand when the owner added in some complimentary garlic scapes with my produce.
I had never heard of them before, so as you could imagine, I had no idea how to cook them. After doing some research, I realized how lucky I was to obtain these thin, curly, vibrant green stalks called garlic scapes.
What’s a Garlic Scape, Anyway?
There are two varieties of garlic: softneck and hardneck.
Garlic scapes are the flowering buds that grow out of the top of hardneck garlic bulb plants. The long, thin stalk runs all the way to the bulb, which gradually hardens. (Hence the name.) The scape develops about a month before the garlic is ready to harvest.
The garlic that you buy at the grocery store is almost always from the softneck variety.
A simple example of what a garlic scape can be described as is this (a little elementary school analogy if you will):
Garlic scapes are to garlic as leeks are to onions
Basically, garlic scapes have a much more delicate garlic flavor than a bulb of garlic (which is quite pungent).
When are Garlic Scapes in Season?
Garlic scapes are only in season from late spring to early summer, so if you’re unaware of their existence, you may have just strolled past them thinking they were unruly green onions.
If you remember in the seasonal produce guide, I talk about how little work you have to put forth when cooking with seasonal ingredients. Garlic scapes are a perfect example of this.
All that’s needed is a small amount of healthy fat, light seasoning, a little heat and you have a delicious side to accompany any summer dish.
What to Look for When Buying Garlic Scapes
Look for tightly curled stalks. These are the youngest and most tender garlic scapes. As they mature, their curls start to straighten and their texture becomes chewier than the younger scapes.
Ideas on How to Use Garlic Scapes
- add sauteed garlic scapes to basil pesto in place of the garlic
- make compound butter (Miyoko’s Creamery is a great dairy-free brand)
- use in frittatas or healthy breakfast hashes
- add as a pizza topping
- make a simple vinaigrette dressing in your blender
- make quick pickled garlic scapes
- add to leek greens farro risotto (so good!)
Sautéed Garlic Scapes with Smoked Sea Salt and Lime
- 1 bunch garlic scapes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil roughly
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt to taste
- juice from 1/2 a lime
- few dashes of coconut aminos optional
- Wash the garlic scapes and dry thoroughly.
- Trim the scapes and cut into pieces of desired size, discarding the tough ends.
- Put a large pan over medium heat. While the pan warms up, mix together smoked paprika and sea salt (start with 1/2 teaspoon of each and add more as needed).
- Add the garlic scapes to a large bowl and toss with olive oil and the salt mixture until evenly coated.
- Once the pan is hot, add the seasoned scapes and cook for about 15-20 minutes (this will depend how big your pieces are), stirring occasionally until softened and charred. If using, add the coconut aminos halfway through the cooking process.
- When the garlic scapes are tender, remove from the heat and sprinkle with more sea salt and smoked paprika, along with the juice from half a lime before serving.