I remember the first time I received garlic scapes in my CSA – like a number of the offerings that initial season, I had never before encountered such an edible. They looked a little like scallions but were named after an ingredient I used in almost every meal, so it was easy to imagine how I might incorporate them into my cooking, but still they amazed me with their acrobatic growth. That late spring and early summer, I dutifully chopped them into stir fries and frittatas, where they added a garlicky crunch.
When I started growing my own garlic – planted late fall to be harvested the following summer – I learned that scapes were the flower stem of the bulb of hard stem garlic. If left un-snipped they would divert energy from the bulb beneath the ground and “flower” into a bulb of mini garlic cloves which could then be planted, although it would take a few years of planting and replanting to achieve a solid head of garlic like we are used to seeing at the farmer’s market. If cut after they curl but still tender, they are edible and delicious. And they keep in the fridge for a solid couple of weeks.
So, last week when I discovered my bag of scapes, cut from my garlic plants before I went on vacation in late June, I was pleased that they seemed as crisp as the day I cut them. It was hot and I couldn’t imagine cooking anything on the stove, so I decided to make garlic scape pesto. I simply chopped the scapes (minus the flower at the tip) and threw them into the food processor with salt. As I chopped, I added enough good olive oil to achieve the chunky but consistent texture I was looking for, and added some lemon juice for brightness. I could have added parmesan or nuts, but instead I mixed a dollop of pesto with mayo and added it to some shredded cabbage, topped with a few tablespoons of sunflower seeds and mixed. What I ended up with was a recognizable cole slaw, but better, zippier, more pungent and unforgettable. Best to make sure your date eats as much as you do.