In our area, the green garlic season is over and so are fresh green garlic soup or green garlic focaccia. The real garlic season is still ahead with the Gilroy Garlic Festival, braids of plump garlic heads, and roasted garlic. . In a very small window of opportunity, it is possible to enjoy garlic scapes. But that window is very narrow, and unless you live in northern climes, you may have already missed it. Still, it is worth a look as you stroll past the booths in your local farmers market. Garlic, like most other allia including chives and onions send up a single, usually leafless flowering stem from the crown of the plant. The flowers blossom – often beautifully – and form seeds or small plantlets. Garlic growers may harvest green garlic early in the spring, but after the scapes appear, the farmers trim them off so that the energy of the plant is pushed toward producing big garlic bulbs that are attractive at the market. Often the scapes curl back on themselves with the flower bud a prominent feature. This curly show is attractive and makes for some unique cooking. Just be careful that when you buy scapes that you select young ones with a tight flower capsule and tender stems. Scapes that are harvested too late can be straight, woody and tough. Once that happens, it is nearly impossible to cook them to tenderness.
Speaking of Gilroy, the Garlic Festival is just around the corner (July 29 through 31). They call themselves the garlic capital of the world. That is probably not true. If you buy your garlic at the local supermarket, there is a good chance that it comes from China! China produces over 75% of the world’s supply of garlic and nearly 55 times as much as the United States.
So what do you do with scapes? You can do about the same things that you do with green garlic, but even better is to use them simply sautéed or incorporated into a main dish like a frittata.
SAUTÉED GARLIC SCAPES AND MUSHROOMS
4 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 Cups (about) tender, young garlic scapes trimmed of any woody stems
8 oz cremeni mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has stopped foaming, add the scapes and mushrooms.
2. Toss frequently until the scapes are softened and slightly wilted and the mushrooms are cooked through (about 5 to 10 minutes) Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 2 to 4 as a side dish
- Sautéed garlic scapes and mushrooms
BACON, POTATO AND GARLIC SCAPE FRITTATA
8 slices bacon
2 russet potatoes, scrubbed
4 Cups tender, young garlic scapes, trimmed of any woody stems
6 large eggs, beaten
½ Cup cream
1 ounce Swiss cheese, shredded
1. In a large oven-proof cast iron frying pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon, drain on paper towels, and chop coarsely. Set aside
2. In the meantime, slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and boil in salted water for about 20 minutes until soft but not completely cooked. Drain, cool and cut into ¼ inch thick slices.
3. Add the potato slices to the still hot bacon drippings and stir occasionally until they begin to brown lightly. Add the scapes and continue to stir until the scapes are softened and slightly wilted. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped bacon.
4. In a bowl, combine the beaten eggs and cream. Then pour over the potato-scape-bacon mixture, stirring to evenly mix.
5. Sprinkle the grated Swiss cheese over the top
6. Place the iron frying pan in the middle of an oven preheated to 275°. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the eggs are set and the cheese is bubbling.
7. Remove from the oven, cut into wedges, and serve immediately
Yield: Serves 4 to 6 for breakfast or a light lunch.
Bacon, potato, and garlic scape frittata