When June rolls around I eagerly and impatiently await the arrival of delicious garlic scapes in our Quebec farmer’s markets. To think that only a few years ago I had yet to discover this wild-looking stalk which has become one of my favorite vegetables! Sadly still unknown by many, garlic scapes are the curly stem, along with its small flower bud, that grows from garlic bulbs. They are usually cut off and harvested before they flower in order to allow the bulbs to grow more flavorful. I felt it was important to introduce you to them because not only are they incredibly tasty, but if they remain unknown, thousands of garlic scapes grown in Quebec each year will end up back in the field to be composted thus further contributing to our growing food waste problem.
Taste, Texture and Availability
When compared to garlic, garlic scapes are much more delicate in flavor, they are easier to digest and when consumed cooked, you won’t have to worry about fending off vampires! They taste like asparagus lightly seasoned with garlic and their texture reminds me that of green beans. They are normally available in Quebec from mid-June until the end of August, so definitely do not miss your chance to finally get to discover and taste them this year! At the beginning of the season, the scapes are even more tender and addictive!
How to Prepare Them?
Garlic scapes are very versatile, fully edible and can be consumed both raw and cooked. You can easily use them to replace garlic in any recipe, as well as steam them, add them to a vegetable stir fry or omelet, use them as a pizza topping or even to turn them into a dip. My personal favorite ways to prepare them are by grilling them whole, simply tossed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, or by blitzing them into a chimichurri sauce where I replace the garlic and shallots in the original recipe with finely chopped garlic scapes. These two very simple and easy ways to prepare them have been instrumental in turning many of my guests into garlic scape addicts! You can also revamp your favorite pesto recipe by replacing the garlic and up to half of the basil with these tasty strings. Don’t forget to make a little extra to freeze so you can get to relive summer memories throughout the year.
Nutritional Benefits and Storing Tips
Like most vegetables garlic scapes are also very low in calories, offering roughly 30 calories per 100 gram serving. They are a good source of fiber, vitamins A and C, in addition to being rich in antioxidants.
Because garlic scape season is very short, if you see them the next time you’re at your farmer’s market don’t hesitate to buy a bunch. They keep very well in the refrigerator, easily up to a month when stored in brown paper bags, and can also be stored in Mason-type jars and kept in the freezer for up to a year. Here’s one of my favorite tips for freezing them without the stalks all sticking together: place the scapes on a baking sheet making sure that they don’t overlap, let them freeze for a few hours and them transfer them to an airtight container or bag.