What are garlic scapes? Usually making an appearance sometime in early to mid-June at most farmers' markets, these verdant stalks with a curled, tapered end might give you pause the first time you see them. What do they taste like, and what can you do with them?
Garlic scapes are the stalks that are sent up by a specific type of garlic plant, namely Rocambole. Normally, these stalks would result in flowers on other plants, but on a garlic plant, they simply eventually sprout miniature bulbs that, if one is patient, can be used to grow another plant a few years down the road.
It used to be that these intensely flavored stalks headed straight to the compost, mainly because they sapped nutrients from the bulb and prevented it from reaching its full size. But one day, some enterprising farmers figured out a way to make an extra buck or two in town. Why not sell them? After all, chances are, if you're the type to frequent farmers' markets, you're a curious cook, always open to experimenting with new ingredients.
And it's a good thing they did because we would be missing out on a wonderful ingredient. Think of a scallion that tastes like garlic. The curlier they are, the hotter and more intense they get. They are popularly used to make pesto, which can go on lots of different things — pasta, boring old chicken breast, and fish, just to name a few examples — but it's also great chopped up in stir-fries and frittatas, blended into soups, hummus, and other dips, placed atop pizza, and then of course, you can always pickle them.
Rich, nutty, and garlicky, this pesto is fantastic on everything from grilled fish and chicken to roasted potatoes and pasta. Or just use it straight up as a delicious spread. (Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Fisch)
Use a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil with nutty undertones for this recipe, which will complement the intense flavor of garlic. (Photo courtesy of Ramsi's Café on the World)
Give fresh tomato a garlicky boost and make this recipe tonight. (Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Fisch)
Will Budiaman is the Recipe editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.