Sometimes we neglect to see the obvious. Subtleties elude us, and in our zeal to enjoy fresh hard-neck garlic, these tender flower heads were ignored. In the past they were typically given as fodder to livestock. Garlic scapes are abundant at farmer’s markets this time of the year. The window for tender scapes is only two weeks. If scapes are left on the plant too long, they become woody and lack the tenderness that gives them their appeal. Cutting them allows the plant’s energy to go directly to the bulb. Although previously ignored, the garlic scape is a delicious spring discovery. Someone realized they were edible and creativity took care of the rest.
Garlic scapes can be used as an ingredient for scrambled eggs and potato salads, made into salad dressings, vinegar and pesto. Let your imagination soar. They are easily frozen for future use to be put in quiches, frittatas and grain salads. This weekend I focused on making pesto using scapes, cilantro and Swiss chard. The chard can be replaced with spinach or beet greens. Pesto can be used as an addition to sandwiches, pizza, roll ups or added to yogurt for a dip.
Garlic Scapes, Cilantro, Swiss Chard Pesto:
- 1 cup garlic scapes, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves only
- 1 generous bunch cilantro, washed and spun dry
- 2/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Blanch Swiss chard leaves in boiling water for 30 seconds, to remove chalky taste. Rinse in cold water and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Put blanched chard, garlic scapes and cilantro in the bowl of food processor and process until still slightly chunky.
Gradually pour olive oil in a slow stream into feeder tube and continue to process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide into four 4 ounce jars and cover with olive oil to seal. Freeze for future use.
“The secret to success is making your vocation, your vacation.”