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The Great Scape
Right Food for the Season - Early Summer
Written by Jon Ross-Wiley   

Round about June, as garlic bulbs grow underground and begin to harden, they send forth shoots that pop above ground and head toward the sun in all their bright green splendor.  In order for the bulb below to reach its full potential and grow into the large, meaty garlic cloves we love to dice, roast, and sauté, this shoot needs to be snipped; a pruning of sorts. Fortunately, this is not the end of the journey for the young plant.  This tasty tendril is called a garlic scape, and I'll tell you something, its flavor is divine.  I love garlic, but until recently I haven't done much with garlic scapes.  A recent trip to the Roslindale Farmer's Market (Roslindale, MA) changed all of that.

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I stopped by The Neighborhood Farm's (Needham, MA) stand and saw a couple varieties of garlic scapes; I chose "Keith's Garlic Scapes" which were displayed front and center (more on Keith here).  This particular variety appeared a bit more robust in both size and color and came highly recommended by the attendant at the stand.  It took two meals for me to realize just how great-tasting they actually are.  This was not the scape's fault...my first experiment with them, had them diced into a marinade that was pretty powerful to begin with and, while the garlic flavor was still able to come through, its subtleties were lost. 

The next morning, I kept it simple.  Scrambled eggs were the order of the day, so I diced about 1/4 cup of scapes, sauteed them in butter, and then added the three eggs I whisked up.  Here, the garlic flavor was undeniable, but, at the same time it was smooth, lacking the bite that garlic cloves can have if not cooked just so.  My experience with these eggs, and, yes, it was an experience, came in two waves.  First, I simply enjoyed the taste as I ate.  Second, I was surprised by the delicate aftertaste.  The garlic flavor lingered on my tongue without a doubt, but in no way was it the overbearing, don't talk to anyone face-to-face for at least 4 hours and two teeth brushings kind of taste that the cloves provide.

So, the next time you see garlic scapes at the farmer's market, pick up a bunch (I got 10 for a dollar), bring them home and put them in some water as you would any other flower.  While you are waiting to slice and dice them, they make an interesting center-piece on a kitchen table, and friends unfamiliar with the great scape will certainly ask about them.  That's when the revolution begins.

Garlic scapes.  All the flavor of garlic without the commitment.  

 

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