The season for garlic scapes is short so high-tail it to your local farmer’s market before you miss it.
That’s right. They’re the whimsically curly, top green parts of garlic that contain the flower shoots if left to grow. Farmers cut them to encourage plumper bulbs and they’re frequently sold next to “green garlic,” garlic that’s harvested before the individual bulbs or exterior paper skin begins to form.
The green garlic is a cook’s dream – no peeling away a pesky outer layer because there is none – just slice off what you need and throw it into a pan, or chop it if called for. It’s a little milder than garlic that’s allowed to fully mature.
The scapes themselves have a peppery, sharp bite to them and they can be cut in small pieces and cooked like green beans or asparagus. That will tame the flavor somewhat. But you can also use them raw wherever the pungent taste of garlic is welcome. Here it takes center stage in a white bean dip recipe from the New York Times. Since the garlic flavor is quite pronounced, it’s best enjoyed when everyone partakes. Otherwise, keep the breath mints handy.
1/3 cup sliced garlic scapes (3 to 4)
(If you can’t find garlic scapes, use 2 plump cloves of garlic)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, more to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
a sprig of rosemary
1. In a food processor, process garlic scapes with lemon juice, salt and pepper until finely chopped. Add cannellini beans (and rosemary if desired) and process to a rough purée.
2. With motor running, slowly drizzle olive oil through feed tube and process until fairly smooth. Pulse in 2 or 3 tablespoons water, or more, until mixture is the consistency of a dip. Add more salt, pepper and/or lemon juice, if desired.
3. Serve in a bowl drizzled on top with olive oil, and more salt if needed. Good with crudites or small crostini.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups.