Right now, you can find an extra-ordinary herb in markets that contains a little protein, is high in interest and is rich in calcium and fiber. It’s called the garlic scape. You may have seen these long, curly stems at your local market and not known what they were.
Garlic scape can be chopped and added to all kinds of dishes for a delicious garlicky taste that is actually brighter than using the clove of garlic itself. My favorite thing to do with it, though, is to turn it into a pesto. I’ve shown you the basil-garlic pesto in a previous post, but if you make it with the scapes and leave out the basil, you don’t have the issue of the pesto turning brown as it is exposed to the air. In my mind, that is HUGE. Besides, the color is a lovely lime green, which I think your guests will find delightful and interesting. Pesto is a great way to add good nutrition and good fat to a dish instead as an alternative to a greasy sauce. So use the pesto to top a cooked chicken breast or other meat or simply put it out as a flavorful dip with crackers or a fresh, sliced baguette. It’s great with cheese, as a pasta sauce or as a spread on a sandwich or wrap.
Here’s a super pesto recipe from my friend, Joan Donnay of Essence on Main in Clarkston, Michigan:
1 cup garlic scapes, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup walnuts
3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blen until semi-smooth. That’s it! LOVE this recipe!
The fresh stems of the garlic scape can also be chopped into tiny pieces and mixed into your egg salad. Use those bits also as a bright green garnish for any dish. It especially looks great on tomatoes because of the color contrast. And yes, use the whole stem, just like you would with a garden onion. Pick your own scapes or buy them at market while they are still curling and they won’t be tough. The primary garlic – the one you are used to buying at the store – grows at the base of the stalks. As the scapes shoot out, they form more little garlic heads that you can split and plant again for the next year. As they straighten up, they become tougher and not as delightful to eat. If they get too tough, they are gorgeous in a flower arrangement! Pair it with other herbs and make your arrangement completely edible. So much to do with these pretty, little shoots. The next time you see them at your market, grab a bunch and have some fun!