Green Garlic:
The Scape

By Kelly Snowden

When most people think of garlic, they picture the white, misshapen bulbs that spend their entire life below ground before being plucked for use in almost every cuisine. But during the spring the hardneck garlic plant offers another rare and fleeting find for those who pay attention: the garlic scape.
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Chef Dante Boccuzzi of Aureole-New York, NY

Composed Salad of Wild Mushrooms and Garlic Scapes with Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette and Bottarga Shavings

Orzo Pasta Risotto with Forest Mushrooms and Garlic Scapes

Confit of Lamb and Garlic Scapes with Preserved Lemons and Watercress

This is the sprout of the garlic plant, a thin, green stalk that curls above the ground and is more tender and sweeter than the cloves that lie below. But there’s a reason the scape is not widely known, and that is because it must be picked within the first two weeks that it breaks the surface of the soil. If you wait too long and the stalk straightens out, the scapes become tough and unappetizing. These early spring gems have long been a part of Korean and Eastern European cooking. American farmers, however, have long cut these stalks off and discarded them, but some are just now starting to offer them up for sale in farmer’s markets.

Chef Dante Boccuzzi of Aureole in New York City gets his scapes from the Union Square Farmer’s Market.

“The season goes from now through June,” Chef Boccuzzi says. “I had them last year, and I just thought they were so interesting. I love the flavor of garlic, but it has a greener taste and is more fragrant. It has a neat look and was something different to bring to diners.”

Scapes will store well, for a couple of weeks, but you can extend their life even further by pickling them for use in salads and pastas. Naturally they are best when fresh and are very versatile, able to replace garlic, scallions, ramps or onions in most recipes. Try the recipes by Chef Boccuzzi featured here, developed specifically to showcase these spring treats.

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   Published: May 2006