Depending on when you planted them, garlic bulbs won’t be ready to harvest until the fall or after the winter. However, scrumptious green garlic scapes pop up in the spring and early summer and can be used to get a subtle garlic flavor with a hint of freshness right now.
Hardneck garlic produces curly green scapes in order to flower and set seeds for future generations. If you harvest the scapes, though, you will both promote better bulb growth and have a versatile ingredient to use in the kitchen.
Garlic scapes can be used in place of a garlic clove in almost any recipe. If you’re still looking for some fresh inspiration, here are four easy recipes that you can try with garlic scapes from your garden or the farmers market.
Garlic scape soup
Yes, it’s summer, but you can serve this garlic scape soup cool on a warm day (or even warm on an unusually cold summer day). If you want, you can even add a couple handfuls of spinach or chard leaves to make it greener, boost the vegetable content and take advantage of the other greens that are in season.
Garlic scape pesto
Move over, basil — garlic scapes make for a fabulous pesto with a much more garlicky punch. This recipe for garlic scape pesto is sure to enhance any pasta dish, or even more for a delicious addition to a sandwich, scrambled eggs or soup.
Grilled trout with garlic scape dressing
Grilling seafood is a great way to celebrate the summer in Maine, and it is made even more delicious with the addition of freshly harvested garlic scapes. The original version of this grilled trout recipe calls for ramps — another delightful early summer treat — but you can easily (and deliciously) replace ramps with garlic scapes.
Garlicky fiddlehead risotto
If you have fiddleheads leftover from their foraging season, combine them with freshly harvested garlic scapes for a truly delicious and seasonal meal. Try this recipe for garlicky fiddlehead risotto, but swap out the garlic cloves for garlic scapes — it’s a one-to-one swap — for extra greenery and a more subtle garlicky flavor that allows the fiddleheads to shine through.
You can harvest the gorgeous, dramatic curlicues to use in a bouquet, but if you do, you might miss out on this fresh, fun and ephemeral ingredient.