Here’s a little bunch of cuteness I bought at Huckleberry Farms organic store yesterday. They’d labelled them ‘garlic shoots’, but I think the term garlic scapes is more commonly used for these – the long, curling shoots that grow up form a garlic bulb to form a flower bud. Most growers will lop garlic scapes off in early summer, to channel the plant’s energy back to the bulb. But far from a throwaway, garlic scapes are a tasty discovery.
In photos you’ll often see them long and curling, with only-just-budding roundness where the flower head is growing. As you can see, the ones I bought yesterday had a well-formed flower head and had been lopped off reasonably short so there wasn’t any curling. Most cooks would cut off the flower head and discard it as it’s a bit chewy, but I left them on – because they were so pretty! Just leave them on the plate if you find them a bit tough.
The flavour, when blanched, is like a milder, more vegetal version of garlic cloves. The texture – somewhere between asparagus and round bean; delightfully crunchy with just a touch of succulence. They’re commonly used in many Asian cuisines, in stir-fries and braised meat, tofu or seafood dishes as well as pickles – Korea does a garlic scape kimchi that sounds pretty good. They’d be brilliant scrambled with eggs and goat’s cheese, or on a white pizza, or a simple summer savoury tart. Cut into shorter lengths, I’d like to try adding them to all kinds of salads, paella, and quinoa and wholewheat one-dish meals. Almost worth growing my own garlic, I’m thinking – so I can harvest the scapes.