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The Garlic Farm
76 Simsbury Rd
West Granby,
Connecticut, 06090
860 264 5644
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The Garlic Farm presents...

Garlic scape background, recipes, ideas

2013 scape weekends at the Garlic Farm:
June 15–16 and June 22-23, from 10 am to 4 pm in the market in our barn. Scape pesto making demonstrations at 1 pm on Saturday and 11 am on Sunday. Scapes for sale by the pound. (Scape shares available for pickup by this year's CSA members, too.)

Sorry if you missed this year's scape weekends. Sign up for the scape season alerts via the newsletter signup button on the left. See you next June for scapes 2014.

What are scapes?
Scape recipes:
Garlic Scape Pesto
Scape-flavored hummus
Rollerscapes (lasagna noodles rolled around scape-flavored rictotta)
Scape storage tips
Scape preparation advice
More serving suggestions
Tell us about your scape discoveries

2013 Scape Weekend discoveries

What are garlic scapes anyway?

Garlic scapes, or flower stalks, emerge from hard-necked varieties of garlic--normally in June in Connecticut. The stalks wind up as they grow and form eccentric curlicues. Snipping off the scapes before the flowerheads mature allows the plant to direct more energy into the developing garlic bulb, and so we snip them off for a garlic scape harvest in mid-June.

When the garlic scapes are still in full curl, they are tender and succulent. They have a garlicky taste that is milder than the eventual garlic cloves, with the tender snap of just-picked asparagus. In fact, we often say that you can prepare garlic scapes pretty much any way you'd use asparagus--and more.

The garlic scape is an allium delicacy that is highly prized and traditionally used in Southern and Eastern European cuisines, along with Middle Eastern, Korean, and other Asian cuisines, which all value its subtly vegetal garlic flavor and tender-crisp texture.

Garlic scapes have many uses, from soup to salads to garnishes: grill, stir fry, use them raw on salads, blend them into hummus or habit-forming scape pesto (with or without other herbs), add them to tempura, soups, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, pasta dishes, and more. They work well as a main dish or on the side.

Find links to lots more ideas on our scapes links page.

close-up photo of curling scape taken June 5, 2013

A garlic scape starts on its winding way, June 5, 2013

Tell us your favorite scape stories and methods

Let us know at the newsletter about your favorite scape concoction or discovery. Every year we hear about some great new ways to prepare scapes from the folks who come to the farm in June to collect their curly green goodies.

Have fun making your own discoveries!

2013 Scape Weekend discoveries

Two from surfing around exchanging discoveries with Twitter #garlicscapes fans after coming home surpercharged with scape mania from swapping stories and ideas with people at the farm and attending the scape cooking demo.

  • Add scape pesto to a grilled cheese sandwiches to elevate it from the ordinary to the sublime (thanks to tarragonandwine, a kindred spirit, commenting on a garlic scape article in the Toronto Globe and Mail online version).
  • Carly DeFillipo wins the Garlic Farm's 2013 award for most imaginative scape preparation with her scape and broccoli rabe sauté with a twist. She slivers the scapes with a vegetable peeler so they behave a bit like fettuccine when sautéed.
  • Steve Pelletier reported that it's possible to make an acceptable scape pesto with no tools other than a knife and an immersion blender. A little chunkier than perhaps would be ideal, but just fine in a pinch.
  • How to pronounce the Mandarin Chinese words for garlic scape.

Scape recipes

Here we offer our two most popular garlic scape recipes, followed by storage advice, basic scape prep tips, and a couple dozen other specific ideas for using scapes at home.

Garlic Scape Pesto

This is the single most-requested recipe during scape season. It's quick to make, versatile, easy to customize—and habit-forming.

Storing scape pesto

The garlic scape pesto freezes well, and so you can extend the scape season flavors beyond the brief two weeks in June when scapes are available at the Garlic Farm.

Scape pesto holds its appealing green color when frozen better than the well known basil-based pesto Genevese.

Be sure to store your pesto in airtight, well-sealed containers for refrigeration or freezing. If you use plastic zipper-lock bags, be sure to use the ones made for freezing. Lesser bags allow aromas to escape, and you might not want to flavor everything in your freezer with garlic, would you? If you store the pesto in a container, try floating a very thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto and then press some plastic wrap onto the oil's surface to prevent freezer burn. If you have some freezer burn on the pesto no matter how hard you try to exclude air, just mix it up after thawing or add a little more oil and stir to renew the texture.

For our 2013 season experiment, I'm going freeze cheeseless pesto as a base. It will take less space in the freezer, and I will have a version that's superior for cooked dishes that aren't well suited to a cheesy pesto, such as chicken thighs with pesto smoothed under the skin before roasting or grilling. Also, I'm going to try the freezing technique suggested by TarragonandWine in a comment on the Globe and Mail's online scape recipe: freeze in thin layers in freezer bags, laying them flat, and then break off portions as needed later.

Garlic Farm Legacy Scape Pesto Recipe

1 cup (or less) freshly grated Parmesan cheese or other sharp Italian cheese
1–2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice, adjusted to taste
1/4 pound roughly chopped scapes
1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste

Puree scapes, olive oil, and juice in a blender or food processor until nearly smooth. (You can make a smooth paste if you prefer, but most people like a little texture in the pesto.) Gently stir in the cheese or gingerly pulse the cheese into the mixture; take it easy as you mix in the cheese to avoid making the pesto gummy by overblending. Taste and then adjust juice and salt to taste.

Store in the refrigerator to use within two or three days; freeze for longer storage.

Scape Demo Pesto Recipe

The variation we've been showing in the demonstrations during scape weekends differs a bit from the classic recipe, above, that's been on the Garlic Farm web site for years. I promised the 2013 demo guests that I'd publish here the variant they've sampled at the farm.

This variation has less oil, which makes the scape pesto less soupy, less caloric, less unctuous, and less expensive. Also smaller in volume, which counts if you're freezing lots of batches.

As noted above, another way to concentrate the pesto for concise storage is to leave out cheese or nuts or herbs for freezing and add any of the variation ingredients later after thawing the pesto base you need.

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, adjusted to taste
1/4 pound roughly chopped scapes; about what fits into a one-cup liquid measuring cup if no scale is handy
1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste, if necessary (rarely necessary if cheese is used)
optional: 1 cup (or less) freshly grated aged asiago cheese or other sharp Italian cheese, about 2 oz. OR 1/4 cup walnuts OR a handful of fresh herb leaves, such as parsley, cilantro, basil, or lemon thyme OR a blander green, such as spinach.

Puree scapes, olive oil, the optional nuts if you're using them, and juice in a blender or food processor until nearly smooth. Leave a little texture in the pesto; you're not aiming for something as smooth as mayonaise. If you're including any herbs, put them into the mix along with everything else at the outset.

Without the cheese or nuts or herbs, this makes a fairly fierce pesto. Adjust flavor balance accordingly and gauge the amount you use so it doesn't overpower the rest of your dish.

After making the pesto base, gently stir in the cheese, if you're including cheese, or gingerly pulse the cheese into the mixture. Take it easy as you mix in the cheese to avoid making the pesto gummy by overblending. Taste and then adjust juice and salt to taste. Note: if you plan to freeze the pesto, leave out the cheese and instead add any cheese you want after you thaw the pesto.

This recipe easily quadruples in our food processor. In your blender or food processor remember to leave some head room for the churning action that occurs as you whirl it around.

Scape pesto serving suggestions

Serve the garlic scape pesto on crackers, on sliced mushrooms as an hors d'oeuvre, in celery sticks, mixed in with mashed potatoes, as a vegetable dip, smeared on a sandwich as a condiment (grilled cheese!), under the cheese on a pizza, between layers of lasagne, mixed in with breadcrumbs or rice and sausage for stuffing a pepper or tomato or avocado or big portobello mushroom, as a garnish dolloped onto a bowl of soup, scrambled with the morning eggs...in short, nearly any way you can imagine. (Apart from dessert.)

Scape pesto variations

Include walnuts, pecans, pistachios, almonds, cashews or other nuts and/or basil or parsley to the scapes in the blending step. (Many recipes recommend using pine nuts, as is traditional in basil-based pesto Genovese, but most pine nuts are now imported from China, unless they are very expensive, and so we tend to use pecans from the American southeast or walnuts and almonds from California if no local nuts are available.) Adjusting the ratio of scapes to cheese, nuts, juice, and salt changes the balance of garlicky flavor and heat. Use the balance that pleases the palates of your family members or guests, or that suits your mood of the moment. Try different cheeses for different flavors: Parmesan, pecorino romano, asiago, for example; be sure to sample before salting, as some cheeses contain more salt than others.

Garlic Scape Hummus

2 cans of chick peas (garbanzos), drained
1 cup sesame seeds or tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh chopped garlic scapes

Place the ingredients in a blender and mix on high until a thick paste forms. Salt to taste.

Variation: Add your favorite curry, to taste.

Rollerscapes: a 2013 creation from Monica Cegelka

photo of cooked Rollerscapes. Photo by Monica Cegelka.

Rollerscapes photos by Monica Cegelka

This cleverly named pasta al forno is a lasagna-noodle rollatini filled with ricotta cheese blended with scape pesto and an egg, and then baked with marinara sauce.

photo of Rollescape in progress, noodle smeared with pesto-cheese mix and partly rolled up. Photo by Monica Cegelka.

Thanks to Garlic Farm scape lover Monica Cegelka for the recipe and the photos. (More photos to come later; these give you a good idea of the key process step and the appearance of the finished product.)

Printer-friendly PDF file of the recipe submitted by Monica Cegelka

Garlic scape storage

Garlic scapes keep well in cold storage, though freshly cut scapes taste the best. You can keep scapes in the refrigerator for a month or more, in a paper bag to avoid turning them into a slimy science project.

They freeze well, too--blanched or not--but they tend to lose some of the garlicky heat during long storage below freezing. Even if they lose some flavor, scapes from the freezer add a great texture and color to dishes long after scape season has passed.

One of our farm customers swears by vacuum-packing and then freezing, but we haven't tried it yet. And in the 2013 season a few of us have committed to experimenting with blanching and not blanching scapes before freezing and comparing the results at different times in the scapeless portion of the year.

If you want to keep scapes flavorful for many moons, make up some scape pesto for the freezer.

Some people pickle garlic scapes, too, and you'll find recipes on the web. We haven't tried that ourselves, but we welcome hearing about your results if you try preserving scapes in a brine.

Scape preparation advice

We advise removing the stalk tip above the pod before using the scapes. Some people use the whole scape, but the pod that contains the immature "flower" and the tip above it are much more fibrous than the tender stalk. The pale bulge that would develop into the "flower" is usually hotter in flavor, too.

Sometimes, especially later in the season (but not in 2013 so far!), the cut end of the stalk is a little tough. If it's woody, it will break off where the texture changes to tender, the way an asparagus stalk bends where it's tender till it breaks at the right spot if you keep bending the cut end.

Scapes tend to get tough and/or lose flavor if overcooked, so start gently.

To learn how much cooking is enough and how much is too much, perform a test: Cut scapes to your desired length and sauté a sample in a little olive oil over medium heat, adding salt and pepper to taste. Do a taste test after just a few minutes; if they're not ready, keep going for another minute or two and taste again. Serve when the scapes are warmed through yet still tender. The results of your experiment are twofold: first, an elegant and tasty side dish and, second, a rule of thumb for how much time the scapes need in the pan to suit your palate.

More scape serving suggestions

Try some of these other ideas:

Use garlic scapes any way you would use asparagus.

Grill them in curly lengths or follow the example of a scape fan at the Garlic Farm and knot them in a loop before grilling to make them easier to handle individually with tongs.

Use a blender or food processor to purée a couple handfuls of chopped scapes into a stick or two of butter. Or follow Marc's example, and start with locally produced cream, add a little cultured buttermilk, set it aside for a couple or three days, and then mix it together in a food processor, thereby churning the cultured cream into butter and flavoring it with scapes at the same time.

Cut scapes into 2-inch lengths and sauté in olive oil or butter over medium heat, adding salt and pepper to taste. What about some parsley on top?

Add scapes to your favorite stir-fry dishes. Lu from Shanghai stirs fries them with cured pork and some fresh hot pepper slices...which suggests that they'd be a great companion to any pork dish, by the way.

Chop the garlic scapes into little disks--as you would scallions--and add them raw to salads.

Add to pickled beets or cucumbers.

Steam scape pieces and dress them with a bit of lemon juice.

Use scapes as a garnish for meats, fish, and other main dishes or on appetizer plates.

Garlic scape pesto (see recipe above).

Slice into short rounds and sprinkle over any pasta, raw or blanched or sautéed.

Slice and add scapes to most any sauce.

Chop and add scapes to guacamole or fresh salsa. Or add a spoonful of pesto.

Chop scapes and mix them with softened cream cheese or butter for a savory spread for sandwiches or bagels.

Mince fresh scapes to garnish tomato or potato soup.

Add chopped scapes to vegetable soups and stews toward the end of cooking time.

Use scapes in recipes as a substitute for green onions.

Add scapes to toppings for bruschetta or pizza.

Place in lightly oiled pan and add salt to taste. Cover and roast for 30 to 45 minutes until beginning to turn brown. Serve as a side dish.

Add to egg dishes, such as frittata, scrambled eggs, omelettes.

Add to mashed potatoes. When we tried this, we found that it didn't take much pesto to provide a flavor jolt to some mashed Yukon Gold potatoes. Start with a scant teaspoon per serving and add more to taste if necessary. We make our mash with just enough lowfat milk to make them fluffy; if you use a lot of butter, you might need more pesto.

Arrange a few in a vase and use it to decorate the table or a kitchen counter; people seem to find their appearance fascinating.

Gary carries newly harvested scapes, on their way to the market.

Gary hoists a couple of baskets of scapes in the 2011 garlic scape harvest.

Updated June 15, 2013

Design revised to beta 4 September 2013