Recipes & Market Watch: Garlic Scapes

Local healthy chef and RD Katie Cavuto-Boyle shares the good-for-you, in-season fare to eat this week

A few years ago around this time of year, I opened my CSA share to find a bizarre ingredient staring back at me: a garlic scape. Though the scape’s citron green, slender stalk — untamed and curly — gave it a curious-but-enticing appeal, I had no idea what it was — let alone how to use it in the kitchen!

Okay, I am sure you are probably thinking, “Well, what the heck is a scape?” Here’s the nitty-gritty: at the beginning of June, a scape stem shoots upwards from a maturing garlic plant. Left to grow, the scape will coil and sprout to a bulb-tip (also fit to eat). To render the easiest-to-cook-with scape, detach it from the plant early on — the earlier the harvest, the better. This removal also gives garlic the chance to develop into the robust tasting herb we know and love.

Previously, these tantalizing treats were thought to be inedible — plucked and tossed to the wayside — before someone discovered their delicious, mild-garlic flavor. I quickly discovered that if I was going to eat garlic, it was far more sustainable to enjoy all its yummy parts! “Waste not, want not,” says many a farmer who distributes the scapes in their CSA shares, and so I began to experiment with the tasty green stalks.

I’ve found that any mouthwatering recipe that calls for garlic takes on a zippy twist when swapped for the scapes. If I am not in the mood for their course texture (they can be a bit tough), one of my favorite uses for scapes is a beautiful pesto. What dish do you know that can’t benefit from a healthy dollop of this lip-smacking sauce? There’s scrambled eggs tinted by the scape’s grassy hue, a pizza with pesto decadently spread across it’s crust, a crostini to follow suit, or a spoonful atop a juicy protein of choice.

If you are a CSA member, I am almost positive you have a scape in your share. (If not, head to your local farmers’ market and pick some up while they last—they’re in season until early July.) Then, try whipping up these two super-good scape recipes below. Enjoy! — co-authored by Amanda Frankeny

Garlic Scape and Arugula Pesto
Serves 12

• 4 garlic scapes, chopped
• 1 cup baby arugula
• 1 cup fresh basil
• 1/4 cup walnuts
• ½ cup parmesan cheese
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 1-2 tbsp water
• Salt and pepper

In a food processor, combine the scapes, arugula, basil, and walnuts. Once minced, add the parmesan and pulse 3-5 times to combine. With the food processor on, drizzle the olive oil through the feed hole. Drizzle in 1-2 tbsp of water for a thinner consistency. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Nutritional information per serving: 94 calories, 8.9 g. fat, 1.25 g. sat. fat, 2.25 g. carbs, 2.4 g. protein, 76 mg. sodium

White Bean and Garlic Scapes Dip
Serves 12

• 1-2 garlic scape. sliced
• ½ cup kalamata olive, pit removed
• 1 lemon, juiced and zested
• 2, 15 ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
• 2 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
• Salt and pepper

Sautee scapes on low heat until tender (3-5 minutes). In a food processor, process garlic scapes with lemon juice, salt and pepper until finely chopped. Add beans and process to a rough purée. 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. Feel free to add more lemon juice if desired.

Nutritional information per serving: 107 calories, 5.9 g. fat, 0 g. sat. fat, 11.5 g. carbs, 3.8 g. fiber, 2.4 g. protein, 390 mg. sodium

Katie Cavuto-Boyle, MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian, chef, and owner of Healthy Bites ToGo Market. Read Katie’s full bio and more about her role at Be Well Philly here.