If you’ve never heard of scapes, I’m sorry for the information I’m about to give you. I’m sorry because after you taste one of these curly, crazy looking little plants, it’s entirely possible that you might form the same attachment that’s about to send Mark and I back to the farmer’s market to rush the poor farmer that sold them to us… lest you (and we) tragically miss all of scape season, which is just a few weeks at most.
So what are these things? Upon asking said farmer what the moderately creepy, spidery little plants were, I learned that scapes are sort of to garlic what scallions are to onions. Scapes grow up out of the garlic plant before it’s fully formed, then begin to harden and curl around themselves until eventually, if they’re not cut off, they straighten up straight to the sky in a move that signals the garlic is done.
Of course… you’d have to be crazy not to cut them off. First, cutting your scapes will apparently give you a bigger garlic bulb (oh the things I’ve learned about garlic farming on this adventure… I’ll be a pro by July) and second… If you don’t cut them you can’t eat them.
And why would you ever do that?
Scapes have a delicious, mild garlic flavor with just a little bite and a fresh taste that can’t be compared to anything else I’ve tried. They can be sautéed in butter and olive oil, mixed into your stir fry or sauce, pickled and jarred, and I imagine just about anything else… people are making ice cream out of ramps these days, you know, why not try it with some scapes?! It couldn’t possibly be any less weird.
But one of the most popular ways to prepare your scapes (and freeze and keep them too) is to blend them up into a pesto that I could barely help but eat off the spoon.
Then, if you’re really feeling decadent… you can pull out a little sourdough and fresh mozzarella and make this sandwich.
1 loaf of sourdough bread, sliced
1 ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced (or more if you like a lot of cheese and plan to make more than about 3 large sandwiches)
1 cup garlic scape pesto (below)
For one sandwich: Butter two slices of sourdough bread on one side and smear with a generous amount of pesto on the other. Place an equally generous amount of mozzarella between pesto-smeared sides and toast over medium heat to taste.
Garlic Scape and Almond Pesto
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan
Makes about 1 cup
10 garlic scapes, finely chopped
1/3 to 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (to taste and texture)
1/3 cup slivered almonds (you could toast them lightly, if you’d like)
About 1/2 cup olive oil
Put the scapes, 1/3 cup of the cheese, almonds and half the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor (or use a blender or a mortar and pestle). Whir to chop and blend all the ingredients and then add the remainder of the oil and, if you want, more cheese. If you like the texture, stop; if you’d like it a little thinner, add some more oil. Season with salt.
Pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days or packed airtight and frozen for a couple of months. I recommend you stock up!