You know, those curly garlic stalks that just showed up at Willie Greens last week — garlic scapes. I wasn’t sure what to do with these green shoots topped with unopened flowers, but I knew I wanted to try them. I thought they might be “green garlic” but after a little research, found they are the young stalks or scapes of hardneck garlic, a variety that does well in the Pacific Northwest.
For those of you who have never grown hardneck garlic, it is a three season process. You plant the “seed” clove in the fall, pick the scapes in spring and harvest the bulb in the summer when the foliage dies down. There is a small window in June when the scapes are young and tender. If they are picked then, they not only make an excellent springtime treat but also help the bulb grow larger.
For my first-ever garlic scape recipe, I chose to make a pesto. I tasted-and-adjusted my way through this and you may want to do the same. Scapes have the familiar garlic bite but aren’t nearly as strong as eating pesto made with this amount of straight garlic would be. Part way through, I added some parsley to tone it down a bit. If you are a huge garlic fan, this may not be necessary.
Scapes can also be cooked for a milder flavor, added to a soup, stir-fry or chopped in scrambled eggs.
Ingredients for Garlic Scape Pesto
1/2 cup garlic scapes cut in 1/4″ pieces — remove the flower top and any part of the stem that feels too woody.
1/2 cup parsley
1/3 cup walnuts
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
Put the scapes, parsley and walnuts into a food processor. Process until it is finely chopped. Drizzle the olive oil in a steady stream until fully incorporated.. Remove the mixture from the food processor and put in a bowl. Stir in parmesan cheese, salt & pepper.
There you have it. Spoon on your favorite pasta, bread, crackers or pizza. You can garnish with a chive blossom if you’d like. If you eat the chive blossom, better to break into individual florets. The whole thing can pack quite a punch.