Garlic scapes are the flower stalks of hardneck garlic plants. The flower stalk does not produce a flower, but if allowed to mature, they do produce a pod or capsule at the end of the scape that contains bulbils. Bulbils are seeds that are clones of the parent plant. Depending on the type of garlic determines how many bulbils are in the pod. Our Nonna Rose Heirloom garlic is a Rocombole which produces 10 to 40 bulbils that are deep purple in color and are the size of the tip of your little finger. Our German Porcleian garlic’s scape will produce a capsule with up to a hundred bulbils the size of a grain of rice. More about the uses of bulbs in a moment.
Garlic scapes begin to appear the end of May and grow from the top of the plant straight up. During the growth of the scape it will curl in a complete 360 degrees then straight up again. Our German garlic will make one curl. Nonna Rose’s will curl twice. The first two weeks of June the scapes are ready. Ready to harvest enjoy and share and most importantly giving new life to the garlic bulbs. We snap off each scape and seed pod by hand, diverting the plant’s energy from the scape and seed pod back down to the bulb. This makes each bulb grow larger. Garlic scapes are edible and delicious and can be used in many ways. The season for scapes is very short, only two weeks in early June so keep your eye out for them and if you have a chance to buy more than you think you will use, buy them they freeze well. Hope you try some scapes and use a few of our suggestions. You can order scapes from our checkout.
Garlic Scape Pesto
One cup of garlic scapes cut into ¼ inch slices
¼ cup of pine nuts (walnuts are great also)
¾ cup of virgin olive oil
¼ to ½ cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Try asiago cheese for a different taste.
½ teaspoon salt
Place scapes and nuts in a food processor and blend them together until smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil slowly and process until it is smooth. Remove the pesto from the food processer into a mixing bowl. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, then salt and pepper.
Makes about 6 ounces of pesto. Will keep for about a week in an air tight container in the refrigerator. If you have made more than you can use, freeze the pesto. Freeze enough to have fresh pesto all summer long.
You can also process the garlic scapes and olive oil in the blender and without adding any other ingredients. Try freezing in an ice cube tray. Once they are frozen take them out of the trays and freezer bag them until you need them. These garlic scape cubes can be used to spark up favorite dish all year long. Try this same process but instead of olive oil try it with butter. Blend thoroughly in a food processor until the butter becomes a light green creamy texture. The butter will have a light garlic taste, great for toast or any recipe calling for butter. Will last in the refrigerator for months and also freezes well.
My favorite classic Italian dish is potato gnocchi with a classic slow cooked red sauce with home made Italian sausage and meatballs. A twist on this classic is to make the gnocchi with garlic scapes. Makes the gnocchi a colorful green with a taste of garlic.
Potato and Garlic Scape Gnocchi Recipe
2 lbs whole baking potatoes
2 beaten egg yolks
8 garlic scapes finely chopped. About one cup.
1 1/2 cups flour
Pinch of salt
Your favorite pasta sauce (for example, this basic, delicious tomato sauce)
First step is to prepare the potatoes. You can boil or steam your potatoes but if you what your gnocchi light, bake the potatoes so they are dried out.
Preheat oven to 350°F, poke the potatoes with fork in several places around each potato to vent moisture as the potatoes cook. Bake the potatoes in their skins until tender, about an hour. Let cool on a rack, cutting them open to help cool and let more moisture escape. Scoop the potatoes out of the skins and mash the potatoes and fluff them up with a fork. Working the potatoes while their warm makes it easier.
Mix in the flour, salt, eggs and finely chopped garlic scapes. Need the ingredients into a pliable smooth ball. This is also the point you can add more flour (a sprinkle at a time) if the dough is too tacky. Dust with a little flour and cut the ball into six pieces, dust with flour and set aside.
Prepare a flat work space where you will be able to roll the dough out into two foot rolls. Dust off the work area. Take a piece of the dough and roll it out gently with your hands until you have rolls about ¾ inch in diameter.
Cut the rolls of dough into one inch pieces. Dust again with flour to prevent the gnocchi from sticking.
To shape the gnocchi gently press your thumb on the top of the gnocchi and roll it away from you. The gnocchi should curl into a slight C shape, this shape holds in the sauce. Set the gnocchi aside, you are now at the final stretch.
Bring a large wide pot of water to a boil and add salt. Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water as they cook and become ready they will rise to the top of the boiling water. This should take about three minutes. Add your favorite sauce, serves six.
A few other ideas for garlic scapes:
Scapes have many uses and can be added to just about any dish you want to flavor with garlic or a little bit of color. Remember scape season is very short and you could miss them if you're not thinking. The first two weeks June, could be a week early this year because of our mild winter. Either way keep an eye out and if you can't find them in your local farmers market, e-mail us now, tell me how many pounds @ $2.50 per lb and we will get them to you.