The Great Scape

Despite the rather wintry weather of late, our hardneck garlic has remained on schedule, pushing up long curly scapes which I harvested eagerly in a spell of evening sunshine.

Basket of garlic scapesRemoving these flowering stems leaves the garlic to concentrate its final efforts on fattening the cloves below ground, and gives us a lovely seasonal ingredient for the kitchen.

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Garlic scapes and basil

I chopped the scapes roughly, then threw them into a food processor along with some basil leaves ( Sweet Green and Purple Ruffles both grown from seed), a handful of pine nuts, a dash of water and a lashing of virgin olive oil, to make a simple coarse pesto.

Garlic scape pesto

I was fairly frugal with the olive oil, adding just enough to bind the mixture, while keeping the pesto on the dry side. Scapes have a slightly milder, fresher taste than bulb garlic – though still packing a fairly powerful punch. We enjoyed spoonfuls of this zingy pistachio-green paste spread on salmon fillets, which were then wrapped in foil and baked in the oven; the pesto also makes a great seasoning stirred through new potatoes – or pasta.

Garlic scape pesto

Taking advantage of the paste’s ability to hold its shape, I scooped spoonfuls into plastic bags to freeze flat, before shaking the frozen pesto balls together for more compact storage, where they will be easily accessible to add a taste of summer to other dishes. You could use ice cube trays, particularly for a more liquid pesto, though the trays may not be serviceable for ice cubes afterwards – garlic ice, anyone?

Freezing garlic scape pestoPesto is such a versatile dish; adding parmesan cheese, rocket or kale leaves, or swapping the pine nuts for any other nut that is to hand are just a few possible variations. If pesto is not your thing, the scapes can also be roasted, pickled or added fresh to other dishes. In this gap between using up last year’s garlic harvest, and waiting for the new crops to come, the scapes provide a welcome burst of flavour.

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6 thoughts on “The Great Scape

  1. Do you the recipe for the pickle by any chance; I saw jars at a Farmers Market and would like to try with mine, although I harvested the garlic on Monday the Scapes (didn’t know they are called that) are still green.

    • I haven’t tried pickling them myself, although I was sorely tempted, but ended up putting all of ours into the pesto this time. In the past I’ve tended to use them as I would chives, or stir fried. There are loads of recipes online for pickled scapes though, some vary simple or others with lots of spices.

  2. You have explained very clearly about how to deal with your garlic bits – not something I grow as the Golfer is very ‘anti’ (vampires in his family, perhaps?), but with the photographs and explanation you have made it easy for those who DO grow it to use them to their advantage. I was just going to suggest you ‘tagged’ your post to bring those with a culinary interest to your blog, but then I found your tags at the top, unlike my WordPress theme which has them at the bottom 😉

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