This week, the Red Rabbit Team wanted to feature the best midsummer staple you might be missing! Beautiful, decorative -- and most importantly, garlicky! -- these curly greens pack a lot of flavor into a pretty swirl.
Known as garlic scapes, these veggies are the tops of garlic plants. Farmers cut them off of the plants, however, because keeping them on causes a plant to detract attention and nutrients from developing a large garlic bulb. If farmers do not cut off the scapes and let them develop small bulbils, these can be planted to grow more garlic - but this process takes 2 to 3 years. Thus, scapes often are reserved for the farmers’ market, which is great for us consumers! Part vegetable, part herb and part aromatic delight, scapes are an easy vegetable to add to any recipe.
How do we use them? One of our interns picked these up from her weekly CSA share early in the summer and had no idea what to do with this crunchy green plant. However, after a bit of experimentation (and a few more weeks of scapes), she came across some wonderful uses for this plentiful veggie.
Typically used in place of or in addition to scallions or garlic, scapes can be chopped up and used raw insalads, especially when young and fresh. More mature scapes are perfect for sauces, soups and stews, as cooking down garlic scapes softens their flavor and makes them an ideal, subtly garlicky addition to any meal.
Another favorite, and one of the most popular uses of scapes, is garlic scape pesto - try blending them in with your usual herbs or make a pesto sauce with them on their own! Scapes aren't as potent as garlic cloves, so they can be used abundantly. Try cooking them as you would asparagus, and enjoy them pickled, grilled, in stir-fries, added to scrambled eggs or homemade mayonnaise. Scapes also make a beautiful household decoration or addition to a flower centerpiece.
How are they good for me? Garlic isn’t just for warding off vampires! Similar to garlic cloves, garlic scapes are packed with nutrients and are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. Research shows that garlic may be beneficial for lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, preventing heart disease, and fighting off cancer. Garlic scapes are a member of the allium family, and members of this family, including onions, chives, shallots and leeks, have been used for their medicinal properties for over 7,000 years. Researchers have found that scapes may also be beneficial for immune function, overall health and detoxing.
Garlic scapes can be found at just about any local farmers' market this time of year - so gather up the kiddos and head out on a veggie treasure hunt for these fun little greens!
The Red Rabbit Team