In botany, scapes are flowering stems, usually leafless, rising from the crown or roots of a plant. Scapes can have a single flower or many flowers, depending on the species. Garlic scapes are removed in order to focus all the garlic’s energy into bulb growth. The scapes are sold separately for cooking. Immature scapes are tender and edible. They are also known as “garlic spears”, “stems”, or “tops”. Scapes generally have a milder taste than cloves. They are often used in stir frying or as an accompaniment to other vegetables like asparagus.

Garlic scapes are a seasonal delicacy.

Scapes & Basil Pesto – 13/07/2014

What follows is farm partner Paco’s version of a scapes & basil pesto – along with, as he puts it, “suggestions for people who might wish to be a bit less slavish about recipes.” He adds: “recipes do not belong to anyone, but all.” We agree. This pesto is very similar to the one we make at the farm, and we like his suggestions with respect to alternative pesto ingredients, storage ideas and quantities (for the single chef or the family cook). Buon appetito!

A food processor recipe. Use steel blade.

  • 10 garlic scapes cut into 1.5 cm pieces. Exclude the seed bulb.
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves lightly packed
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Put scapes, basil, salt and pepper in food processor bowl.

  • 1 cup virgin olive oil (more or less on how thick you want your pesto)

Start the food processor and add the oil in the drip tube (or slowly add oil by hand).

  • ½ to 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Stop machine, add cheese and pulse until fully mixed.

  • ½ cup pine nuts (or walnuts)

Stop machine, add nuts, and pulse to chop nuts to achieve a chunky texture.

  1. This is a food processor recipe and can be doubled or tripled in most processors. When you have the basil and scapes, make lots and freeze the extra.
  2. Pesto is a great spice for many dishes: pasta; baked potatoes; fish; salad dressing, soups, etc. Like all the great recipes of the world, this is really just a suggestion of ingredients and process. Every cook develops preferred mixtures, smoothness, and uses.
  3. This recipe is fairly traditional, but recognize that you can make great pesto out of many items. For example, think of using somecilantro or hulled, toasted pumpkin seeds rather than pine nuts,etc. Be bold, it’s all good.
  4. Scapes give a lovely garlicky flavour, but can easily be replaced by garlic bulbs. [And more commonly are.] How many to use depends on how fresh the garlic is — the fresher the garlic the sweeter they taste. And of course, there are many varieties of garlics.
  5. This is a good basic basil pesto, however, consider replacing up to half of the basil with Italian (flat leaf) parsley, and consider not putting cheese or pine nuts in at this time if you are going to freeze some (all) of the pesto. Then add them when serving as desired.
  6. This recipe makes quite a solid pesto. You may wish to thin with more oil while still in the food processor or use hot water (from the pasta pot?) to make a thinner sauce to coat pasta. To freeze, pour pesto into clean ice cube trays and freeze immediately. Single batch makes about a dozen frozen cubes. This size is good for a small serving, but you may wish to freeze in muffin cups to make larger serving units. When frozen (12 hours or more), place in freezer bags or airtight containers and keep frozen until use.

Garlic Scape and Spinach Warm Salad – 06/07/2011

Salade tied d'epinards et de fleur d'ailA picture of the dish Montreal West member Dawn Rouse made from garlic scapes and spinach from the farm …and the recipe (we tried it Sunday  night – she was right when she told us it was delicious!) :

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 8 oz garlic scapes, trimmed
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup grilled haloumi cheese, diced (also called hallom or hallomi)
  • 8 oz. of spinach leaves
  1. Heat the oil in a sauté pan and add sugar.  Stir to caramelize the sugar for about 2-3 minutes and add the scapes.
  2. Cover and sauté over medium-high heat for no more than 3 minutes, occasionally shaking the pan to prevent scorching.
  3. After 3 minutes, add the tomatoes and wine. Stir, then cover and reduce heat to low; continue cooking 5-6 minutes or until scapes are tender but not soft.
  4. Season, then add the parsley and haloumi.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature. Add the spinach just before serving, so it does not wilt too much.

A few suggestions of what to do with scapes – 01/07/2010

  • Cook the scapes in a steamer for a few minutes, either alone or with another delicate green such as asparagus. Do not overcook. To give them additional zip, steam them a bit less and sauté them briefly, in butter or olive oil. If in butter, serve hot – you can even add a hollandaise sauce; if in oil, serve hot, or as a warm salad, with your favourite vinaigrette.
  • Chop the scapes finely, place them in a container (preferably glass), add a bit of lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt. Cover entirely with olive oil and refrigerate immediately.
  • Spread the scape-olive oil mixture (above) on toasted slices of baguette or ‘pain de campagne’, and add fresh diced tomatoes, like bruschetta.
  • Brush the scape-olive oil mixture on a duck, veal or lamb roast before you cook it; the mixture is also great with fish.
  • Use it with grated parmesan as a pesto substitute on your favourite pasta.

…let us know if you have any other ideas.