Hardneck garlic sends up a graceful, often curling, flower stem called a garlic scape. This is often harvested before it blooms to encourage the plant to put more energy into growing a large (and delicious) bulb. But like all things in nature, nothing goes to waste. These young stems are a gift in the kitchen. With a slightly sweeter and milder flavor than raw garlic, there are a number of ways to enjoy these delightful greens with your dinner.

Garlic Scapes
The curly-cues of garlic scapes

Like garlic, scapes add flavor to any meal, but because of their size, shape, and texture, they also add substance to your meal. You can think of garlic scapes as a vegetable that comes with its own natural flavoring.

Replace Garlic  

Have a dinner guest who’s afraid of garlic breath? You can use minced garlic scapes to instead of minced garlic in any recipe. The meal will still taste of garlicky goodness, but with a softer, sweeter flavor. Because the flavor is milder, you may want to double the amount.

Replace Green Beans in Stir-fry

We all have our favorite stir-fry recipe. Spice things up by replacing the green beans with garlic scapes. Cut the scapes into similar length as a green bean, and sauté as you normally do. The garlic scape texture and color perfectly replaces the green bean, but also adds a fresh garlic flavor. Just like you do not want to overcook your green beans in your stir-fry, do not overcook the scapes for a nice crisp bite.

Grill like Asparagus

Nothing celebrates summer like getting the grill out. Just like asparagus, garlic scapes are delicious grilled. Toss in bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then grill like you would asparagus. In this way, you will not only get to enjoy the great flavor, but also their artful curves. Served on the side of any dinner plate, your “backyard bbq” will instantaneously be elevated to “dining al fresco.”

Preserve Them

The only the downsides of garlic scapes is that they have a short growing season. But if you pickle them, you can enjoy their smooth garlic flavor all year. Cut the stems to fit your jars and use a standard pickling recipe, such as, adding dill and peppercorns to the jar. Just like in your stir-fry, pickled garlic scapes mirror pickled garlicky green beans. Yum.

Make Pesto

This simple recipe from Penn State Extension truly highlights the goodness of the scape flavor. Using a food processor, puree scapes and olive oil until smooth. Then, add pine nuts, Parmesan and lemon juice. Season to taste.

  • ¼ lb. garlic scapes (about 2/3 cup, chopped)
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste