Food Finds: Garlic Scapes

Updated: June 10, 2016 

From June 2009: We purchased a farm share this summer in a local CSA. Our crops started coming in the first week of June, as we missed the earlier start in May. Not much of a difference in the months - what with all of the rain, cool weather and decidedly Seattle Spring-like atmosphere. The farm shares thus far have been lettuces, cool crop greens and a few root vegetables such as turnips and some beets. One of the more interesting vegetables received in the past three weeks were garlic scapes. The scapes are the shoot that comes up out of the ground as the garlic bulb grows, matures and turns into the multi-cloved bulb we know and love. Eventually the green shoot will turn white and hard, almost woody. However before this process happens, you can enjoy the scapes as you would scallions or chives albeit with a far greater impact and taste kick. As I am fond of saying when I'm teaching a cooking class or on a culinary food tour - nature's giving us a 2-for-1 gift. Eventually we can enjoy the punch of aromatic garlic but first we can partake in the pugnacious scape.

Scapes can be used in a variety of ways much like garlic or onions; sauted, frizzle fried, chopped and use raw (ouch! and whew!) or as I discovered, turned into either a pesto or garlic scape oil for later use. I've sauted the scapes in the past instead of using garlic and have had success. This time however, I wanted the scapes to last a bit longer so I pureed them in some good extra virgin olive oil along with 2 or 3 extra garlic clovers for good measure. You don't need to use the best olive oil, extra virgin or olive oil at all - but it's what I had on hand (having purchased a good deal on a case of imported Italian Olive Oil direct from the manufacturer.) Light olive oil, canola oil or grape seed oil would all work well, allowing the garlic scapes' flavor to dominate. The recipe, as it were, is more of a how-to, not really an ingredient and direction list.

There are three ingredients, one piece of equipment and one step to process. To turn the scape oil into a pesto, add some grated Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and either pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds.  To make it vegan, use a tablespoon of dry mustard powder, such as Coleman's, instead of the cheese.


Garlic Scape Oil Ingredients:
  • 1 Bunch Garlic Scapes - washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 Cup (or up to 2 cups) of Olive oil (or neutral oil of choice; canola, light olive or grape seed oil)
  • 3 Garlic Cloves - blanched or roasted (optional, but it'll taste better!)
Equipment:
  • Blender or Food Processor

Directions:
  1. Wash scapes and cut into 1 inch pieces, discarding the tip and bulb that has formed. Dry and add to the blender jar or food processor bowl.
  2. Pulse a few times. With the blender or processor on, drizzle in the oil until a uniform light green puree is achieved - about 2 minutes. If you want a thicker scape oil, use up to 1 cup of oil. For a thinner oil, use up to 2 cups of oil.
  3. Pour the oil with the solids into a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid - such as a clean Mason/Bell jelly jar. Allow the oil and solids to settle and the flavors to marry. You can strain off the solids through a fine mesh strainer, using the garlic oil as you would any flavored oil - for cooking or salad dressings. The solids can be used like minced garlic in a saute.
  4. The oil and solids, either together or separated can also be frozen in small batches and tossed into soups, gravies or tomato sauce too. Frozen, it will hold for up to 3-4 months.
  5. Refrigerate the oil and use within 2 weeks.

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