Last year around this time I read an article in the New York Times Dining & Wine section about the many forms of garlic now available in the local farmers’ markets. In “A Good Appetite: A Garlic Festival Without a Single Clove,” Melissa Clark writes of one of my favorite spring flavor enhancers, green garlic, and something that was totally new to me – garlic scapes.
Garlic scapes are the small bud and stems of the flower the garlic plant produces before the (more familiar) bulb is produced. The scapes are pruned from the plants in order to direct the plant’s energy into producing the bulb instead of a flower.
Last year, I did not make it to the market in time to sample garlic scapes, so this year, when I saw them I jumped at the chance to take some home (even though I knew I wouldn’t get a chance to cook them right away). After feeling terribly guilty for leaving them in the fridge for a few days, my curiosity was finally sated.
I cut the scapes into two-inch pieces and cooked them in boiling salted water, then shocked them in an ice bath (the a l’anglaise method – have to throw that in since I am an instructor at the French Culinary Institute). I then dressed the cooked scapes with fresh lemon, chili-infused olive oil, sea salt and pepper, then tossed them with chopped olives.
They were delicious! I was surprised at how delicately flavored they were. I was expecting a strong (but hopefully pleasant) aroma of garlic, as with green garlic. However, what I got was a flavor reminiscent of artichokes – a touch of sweetness like green hay, followed by a very subtle green garlic flavor. Hopefully there will be more at the market this weekend and I will cook them the same day to see if I missed out on anything from not enjoying them immediately. They are so easy to cook and make for a unique replacement for green beans or other more traditional vegetables.
Try them for yourself before the season ends and you miss out!