Scapes: What We’re Eating From the Greenmarket

garlic scapes DH 2Better than the bulb: Garlic scapes at Greenmarket.

Right now Greenmarketeers are gorging on strawberries and counting the days until cherries, but while they’re rolling pastry dough and whipping cream, I’m more excited about garlic.

It might not be as iconic as pie and shortcake, but I’ll take that stinking rose over dessert any day — especially if the day is in June, when top-setting garlic’s scapes are ripe for the picking.

Garlic went in the ground last fall, when individual cloves were planted, root-end down, for a long winter’s nap. Green shoots poked up in March and you could chop up the whole thing, like a scallion. But also like scallion, garlic (and chives, shallot, leek et al.) are in the lily family and, come late spring, garlic sends up a bud that wants to open into a flower, scatter its seed and make more garlic. Farmers have another idea. They snap this budding shoot off, telling the plant to instead direct its energy down, down, into the profitable bulb below ground.

And here’s where I get hungry. That curly, bud-bearing shoot, called a scape, isn’t something to toss on the compost pile. It’s got the texture of asparagus and a garlic flavor far milder than any clove. I chop scapes by the fistful into everything from eggs to potatoes, Korean pancakes to peas and pasta, for breakfast lunch and dinner. There’s just one course I don’t add it to: dessert.

Photo credit: David Hughes

Betsy Bradley

Elizabeth L. Bradley writes about New York City history and culture. She hopes to find Tiffany blue dragees in her Christmas stocking this year.

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