Those scallions aren’t deformed, they’re garlic scapes

garlic scapes

Photo by urbanfoodie33 via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

One of the great perks of being a CSA member is encountering produce that you might not otherwise seek out. A month ago we were making rhubarb and strawberry compote for the first time (along with a fantastic beet, rhubarb, and orange salad). This week we’ve been enjoying a slaw made with fennel, kohlrabi, celery and apples, and I’d never before purchased either of the first two ingredients! Except for a few leaves of lettuce, the only things remaining from our latest CSA shares are the garlic scapes. The folks at Vermont Valley Community Farm highly recommended making pesto from them, and after reading T. Susan Chang’s post at NPR yesterday, I’m convinced.

Chang describes scapes for the initiated:

… just when you’re hunting for the first ripe strawberries — something odd happens. The garlic sends up a central stalk, chartreuse and pointy at the end, and it starts growing fast. It’s called a scape. The scape shoots up and then goes serpentine — it begins to curl, forming one loop or maybe even two. There’s a bump toward the end of the scape, and if you leave it alone it will develop into a “bulbil” (which is not a hobbit, but a miniature garlic you could plant if you wanted).

Don’t let things get that far; instead, snap off the scape when it’s done curlicuing. It’s the gardener’s dividend, and it is a rich one. The taste of that green garlic is haunting — biting, fresh, vegetal and verdant. It is to mature garlic what a string quartet is to an orchestra; what a sonnet is to a novel.

Find her full post and three recipes—including one for scape pesto—here.


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