Saturday, June 7, 2008

Garlic Scapes

A friend who lives right next to the restaurant raises garlic on a little plot here in town. And every year when his garlic starts sending up bloom shoots called scapes (photo, at right), he cuts them off brings them to me.

If you leave the scape on the garlic plant, it will put its energy into the scape, which will straighten out over time and produce tiny seed-like bulbs. If you cut the scape, the plant puts its energy into growing the bulb, the part that most of us like to eat.

But to eat only the mature bulb is to miss two other very edible stages of the plant: green garlic and scapes. I should mention that there are two kinds of garlic in the world, softnecks which do not produce scapes and hardnecks (including rocamboles) which do produce scapes.

The curly scapes are tender with a mild garlic flavor. I dice them and make risotto from them, slice them and stir fry them, cut the blooms out and use them as another vegetable in mixed vegetable sautés, add them to the myriad green sauces that I make, and so forth and so on.

If you're lucky enough to grow your own hardneck garlic or know someone who does, by all means, avail yourself of this spring bounty.

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