It’s summer! Yesterday was the Fourth of July — when we celebrated our nation’s independence. And how do we do that? With songs and parades, yes — and with cookouts and picnics.
And it’s also garlic scape time! Those beautiful garlic tops cut before the garlic is harvested can be used in many flavorful ways. You can eat them raw, saute in butter and garlic until soft, coat with oil and roast briefly in the oven, or drop them on a hot grill for 60 seconds per side. They’re very delicate, so be sure to only cook briefly. You can also pickle them or turn them into pesto.
Many are still unfamiliar with the curly, bright green stalks with tightly closed buds at the farmers market. But they have been a fixture of Oriental cuisines for generations. Known gau choi in Cantonese, scapes shine in Oriental stir-fries. Add them at the end; they only need a minute or so to cook.
The stems are tender, with a texture similar to green beans and a mild garlic flavor that mellows as it cooks. They’re delicate, so use low heat and don’t overcook them. If cooked too long, they become tough and lose their garlic zing — which is why I prefer them raw, chopped into little disks (like cut scallions). Use them as a topping for pizza or bruschetta. Stir into egg dishes like frittatas, omelets and quiche. Sprinkle over pasta or use as a garnish for soups and other dishes.
These flowering buds of hardneck garlic must be cut now, or they will drain nutrients from the bulbs of garlic that will be harvested later this summer.
Scapes are one of the best ways to obtain the health benefits of garlic. Even people who are not fond of garlic may like this milder version and thus benefit from the herb’s antifungal, antibacterial, anticancer and cardiovascular health properties.
Raw scapes add zest and crunch to all types of summer salads. Stir them into potato, pasta, or grain salads and bring them to your outdoor gathering. Chop them fine and add to potato, macaroni or grain salads for a crunchy texture and garlicky flavor.
Garlicky Farro and Spring Vegetable Salad
3 cups cooked farro (or 2/3 cup dry farro)
About 2 dozen garlic scapes (or 3/4 cup chopped scapes)
2 scallions, white and green parts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 cucumber (about 1 cup, diced)
4 young, tender carrots (1 1/2 cups, shredded)
1/2 avocado, diced
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Optional: garbanzo beans, peas, or hard-cooked eggs
To cook farro, place 2/3 cup farro, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3 cups broth or water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a low simmer and cook 30 to 40 minutes, until grains are plump and liquid is absorbed.
Stir freshly chopped scapes into hot farro.
Stir in salt, olive oil, zest and juice from one lemon.
Serves 4 to 6.
Potato Salad with
Peas, Cucumbers, Scapes and Dill
1 pound small yellow or red-skinned potatoes (4 cups, cooked and diced)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cucumber, preferably with skin (1 cup, diced)
About a dozen garlic scapes (1/3 cup, sliced)
About a dozen sugar snap peas (about 1 cup sliced)
1 cup fresh minced dill
1 or 2 cups scallions, white and green parts
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons finely minced sweet red bell pepper, for garnish (optional)
In small saucepan, cook potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and set aside to cool.
While potatoes are cooking, chop cucumbers into 1/2-inch dice and place in salad bowl. Cut off the ends — the stem end is bitter. Peel if the skins are tough; otherwise leave skin on. Remove any big seeds with a spoon or your finger. Place in the bowl.
Slice garlic scapes and sugar snap peas. Add to the bowl.
Chop the dill, wash and slice the scallions. Stir into the cucumbers.
Fold in yogurt, sour cream and feta.
When potatoes are cool, slice in halves or quarters (depending on size) and stir in.
Taste and adjust seasonings; add a little salt and pepper, if needed.
Option: For a main dish salad, add a couple chopped hard-cooked eggs or a cup of garbanzo beans.
Serves 4 to 6.
— — —
Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at [email protected] or on Facebook at Words Are My World.