Summer

What to Do With Garlic Scapes—Plus, Our Favorite Recipes That Use This Curly Plant

Make sure that you save some for sautéeing, deep-frying, topping pizzas, and more.

Photo by Alexandra Stafford

There's nothing better than returning from the farmers market to transform a bunch of garlic scapes into tempura-battered appetizer—complete with a sidecar of garlic aioli. This time of year, bags filled with the serpentine stems can be found everywhere at farmers' markets, and unlike many of the fleeting jewels of summer, garlic scapes are a bargain. 

Garlic scapes grow from hardneck garlic bulbs, and farmers trim them because they draw energy away from the forming bulbs. They taste sweet, like a chive or scallion, with a more mild—but familiar—garlicky zing. Finely sliced, scapes can be used just the same as garlic cloves, such as sautéed with vegetables, puréed into pesto and hummus, or roasted with meats and vegetables.

They also can be lightly battered and fried, which tempers their pungency, giving them almost a green bean quality, both in taste and texture. When fried, moreover, scapes become more than just a flavor enhancement—they can be the main show, too. A one-pound bag of scapes, trimmed into six-inch lengths and fried in small batches, will definitely feed a crowd.

How to Store Garlic Scapes

Scapes couldn't be more low-maintenance. They rarely have a speck of dirt on them, and they will keep for weeks (even months!) tucked in a bag in your vegetable drawer. Before using them, cut off the stringy, fibrous tip from the flower end, and trim off the very bottom of the stem.

How to Use Garlic Scapes

Use scapes just as you would garlic, finely chopped (though not necessarily minced as you typically would with garlic) and sautéed in butter or olive oil. Make a summary sauté with scapes, zucchini, onions, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes—any of your favorite summer vegetables. Come Friday night, why not top a pizza with sautéed scapes and the garlicky olive oil that you sautéed them in?

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You can also treat garlic scapes as you would chives or scallions—finely chop them and use as a garnish, or fold them into the batter for savory biscuits, muffins, or scones, or even whisk them into an egg scramble. 

Purée the scapes raw and add to hummus, pesto, aioli, and mayonnaise. When scapes are steamed until tender, their resemblance to green beans is striking. Season with salt, pepper, and olive oil or butter.

Because garlic scapes have a relatively short season, one of the best ways to preserve their beauty is by trimming them and pickling them with spices (mustard seeds, peppercorns, fennel seed, cumin) and a vinegar-salt-sugar mix. Ahead, we're sharing even more ideas for cooking with garlic scapes using five of our favorite recipes.

Our Favorite Garlic Scape Recipes

Arugula & Garlic Scape Pesto

Arugula and Garlic Scape Pesto

Upgrade a basic basil pesto with ½ cup of chopped garlic scapes and peppery arugula in place of the ever-popular herb. Mix the ingredients in a food processor along with the zest and juice of one lemon, Pecorino cheese, roasted almonds, and lots of good-quality extra-virgin olive oil. From here, stir it into warm pasta, use it as a dip for crudités, drizzle it over pizza, or fold it into scrambled eggs.

Tempura Garlic Scapes With Garlic Scape Aioli

Tempura Garlic Scapes

Looking for a way to enjoy garlic scapes in all their glory as is? Dip them in a rich and silky tempura batter, which forms the airest, crispiest crust when deep-fried. While they're incredible on their own, turn the volume up on the flavor one more notch with a creamy garlic scape aioli for dipping.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic Scape Pesto

Looking for an even easier pesto? This four-ingredient sauce is made with the curly scapes, plus Parmesan, pine nuts, and olive oil. It's simple as can be, but the flavor is far more intense than you'd expect (in the best way possible).

Clams Steamed With Garlic Scapes

Clams Steamed with Garlic Scapes

Clams are mild-mannered, but their sea-fresh flavor is complemented with sautéed garlic scapes and a white-wine butter sauce. Serve with lots of crusty bread for sopping up every last bit of that garlicky broth.

Grilled Sausage With Potatoes & Garlic Scapes

Grilled Sausage with Potatoes and Garlic Scapes

All three ingredients here—the Italian pork sausages, fingerling potatoes, and olive oil-coated garlic scapes—are grilled until charred for one fabulously flavorful dinner that serves four. The scapes are super quick-cooking (we're talking one minute per side), so don't let them out of your sight. They quickly turn from brown and caramelized to burnt and inedible. This prized, piquant plant has a very short season, so it would be a travesty to accidentally burn them and have them go to waste. 

What is your favorite way to use up garlic scapes? Let us know in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

15 Comments

patricia G. June 23, 2021
Micro-planed a couple of scapes tonight and swirled them loosely into a plate of hummus. Charred halved young carrots for dipping.
 
ErinM724 June 22, 2021
I add them to my fried rice. Tonight I sauteed some with summer squash, tomatoes and green onions with some jarred pesto and pasta. Tomorrow I'm gonna throw some in some eggs for a breakfast sandwich.
 
Rachael F. June 21, 2021
As a farmer (and her farmer husband), who live on a farm that grows more than 30,000 garlic plants a year, this couldn’t make us happier!! Hooray for garlic scapes! Pesto is our favorite. But we also like to dry the scapes on the food dehydrator, then whizz in the spice grinder to make garlic scape powder. Garlicky with a savory twist! And also a great color!
 
akaals June 21, 2021
I like to chop up the scapes, saute them in a little olive oil, crack a couple of eggs on them, and sprinkle a little grated cheese on top. Cover and cook at a low heat until ready and call it breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
 
patricia G. June 20, 2021
Trim scape ends to the point at which they're tender (like asparagus) oil them up and throw them on the barbie. A hot grill so you quickly get some nice char. Sprinkle with salt.Squeeze of lemon if you like.Hold them by the onion-top-end to eat. You don't eat that end so it makes a convenient handle. An aioli to dip the scapes into can't hurt. Or a ranch or green-goddess kind of dressing made with tender pieces of scape.
 
Katy K. June 16, 2021
Love these scape bundles. https://katykeck.com/garlic-scapes-maple-achers/
 
Steph April 15, 2015
Looking for tips as to where to find them? I lived in Spain and these were part of one of my favorite dishes...they even sell them in the frozen food aisle there. Never been able to find them in the U.S., even at farmers markets.
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. April 16, 2015
I would suggest asking a farmer at your local farmers' market when they will be arriving. Last summer there was a period when every farmstand table I visited seem to have bundles of scapes for sale. It was a short window, as I remember, but once they arrived, they were everywhere!
 
Judi M. June 20, 2021
This is one of the deep pleasures of growing your own garlic.
 
Fairmount_market July 26, 2014
One thing I did with scapes this year that was very tasty was to grill them and incorporate them into a charred tomato salsa.
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. July 27, 2014
Brilliant! That sounds amazing.
 
Sarah July 25, 2014
Thanks for all of the great suggestions for garlic scapes! I've been receiving a huge bag of them each week from my CSA, and I'd started running out of ideas! Can't wait to try these.
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. July 27, 2014
Me, too! Hope you like these.
 
Sarah J. July 25, 2014
I was lucky enough to take home an extra bunch of garlic scapes the other week; not only did the scapes attract a lot of attention and conversation on the subway to the tune of "What are those?!," but I also made a great pesto (that I'm still adding to everything I eat, from shakshuka to scrambled eggs) thanks to Kenzi's recipe (https://food52.com/blog/6909-garlic-scape-pesto). Now, I am on a mission to get my hands on another set of scapes this weekend so that I can make that aioli! Thanks for the great suggestions and beautiful photographs.
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. July 25, 2014
Haha, I know, at every farmers' market table I visited, the basket of scapes received a lot of attention. I am going to have to try that pesto! I am loving the scapes in my scrambled eggs — scape pesto in eggs sounds amazing.