I love this time of year for so many reasons. Despite Mother Nature’s fickle feelings towards the temperature and rain lately, one of which is that the farmer’s markets have still been filled with sightings of ramps, green garlic and asparagus; giving us even the slightest ray of hope that spring is hiding behind those clouds somewhere.
But, there was one surprise that made my day when I came upon it at the market this past weekend. I didn’t even have to say hi to Zach at The Gardener’s Table before expressing my excitement to see garlic scapes on the table.
These beautiful green curly q’s are one of my favorite vegetables at the market and to me, are a true sign that spring is here. Having discovered them while living in New York City a few years ago, I have since become addicted, adding them to almost any dish I cook, for as long as I can get my hands on them. And when you can get about 10 scapes for just a buck at Atherton Market, these guys are worth the purchase.
Garlic scapes are technically the “flower stalk” of early garlic bulbs. And while they may look like wild green ribbons, I would compare their texture to that of fresh asparagus. If you try a scape raw, you will experience a lovely crispy texture followed by the subtle hint of garlic—strong enough to hit your palette but much less astringent than a raw garlic clove. Raw garlic scapes are a great idea for salsas, pestos or marinades—much the same as you would use garlic but will result in a much milder flavor. You can also grill garlic scapes and toss them on a sandwich, or serve alongside a crusty steak.
My favorite way to prepare garlic scapes, however, is sautéed—used similarly to how you would a scallion. Simply chop the scape into pieces and toss in at the end of any vegetable sauté. For an easy spring breakfast, combine chopped Brussels sprouts, spring onions, snow peas, asparagus and kale in a sauté pan with salt and pepper, chili flakes and a little oil (I love the chili-infused olive oil from Pour Olive on East Blvd). Sauté until just cooked, keeping that vibrant bright green color from this mix of vegetables. Add the scapes and warm through just enough to remove any harsh bite of garlic flavor. Top with an oozy over-medium egg and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt mixed with chopped herbs of your choosing—such as basil or cilantro. Serve with a slice of crusty bread to sop up all the goodness.