We have been growing garlic at Pot Pie Farm for more than 10 years. We grow both soft and hand neck varieties of the plant. The hard neck garlic is our favorite and preferred by most market farmers. This time of year, the garlic takes on the form of wiry, curly spouts with cone shaped tips. They are called garlic scapes and are actually the flower stalk the garlic plant sends up to make a beautiful Queen Anne’s lace-type flower and set seed. (We cut off the scape to prevent the garlic plant from putting all its energy into flowering and setting seed. We want that energy to go into making fat garlic bulbs.) You can see them on the market tables, 10 to 15 inches long, green and bunched with rubber bands or curled into the familiar blue pint and quart baskets the farmers use for fruit and potatoes.
Garlic Scapes cause conversations. “What’s that?” is the most common question followed by, “What do you do with them?” The short answer is that garlic scapes are just like the more familiar heads of garlic, only a greener earlier form. Use them for all the same recipes you do for the garlic heads: vinaigrettes, mashed potatoes, stir fries and pesto. In fact, the scapes can also be doused with salt and olive oil and roasted for a delicious side dish.
Making pesto is one of our favorite ways to use the garlic scapes. We often share this recipe with our Pot Pie market customers.
Garlic Scape Pesto
The pesto is delicious on pasta, grilled bread, on pizza or as a sandwich spread. You can freeze it for year round use. The scapes make a deep green pesto that does not have the same heat as the fully mature garlic bulbs. Try adding almonds, pine nuts or walnuts for a creamy texture.
1/4 pound garlic scapes, cut into 1-inch lengths
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (or more for desired consistency)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 T fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste.
Puree scapes and olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Stir in Parmesan and lemon juice and season to taste.
– Ann Yonkers, FRESHFARM Market Co-Executive Director and owner of Pot Pie Farm