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On Your Mark, Get Set: Still Feeling the Garlic Scapes

2011 July 12

By Sarah A. Maine

A little over a year ago Brianna and I launched RecipeRelay, and I drew the lucky straw (I think we actually flipped a coin), kicking off the Relay with a recipe for Chicken Kebabs in a Garlic Scape Marinade. I had seen a cooking demonstration at my local farmers market which showcased thinly sliced garlic scapes and sweet corn lightly sautéed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The delicate flavor of the scapes mingled with the sweetness of the vinegar, convincing me to buy a bunch to take home and experiment with. I found few recipes available that used garlic scapes, and so spent most of the summer eating them raw (in salads), and gently sautéed in the manner that I had seen at the market. Happily, it now appears, according to my thoroughly unscientific poll of RecipeRelay posts, scape awareness is on the rise. If this is true, it is a great development, if it’s not, then we here at RecipeRelay will continue to do our part on behalf of garlic scapes.

Since the beginning of June I have been working at the Monkshood Nursery farm stand at the Jackson Heights Greenmarket. Part of my job is to field questions about organic farming, crop cycles, and cooking methods. Some items are more unfamiliar to shoppers than others; the pile of garlic scapes at the Monkshood stand drew many a curious glance. “Are you familiar with garlic scapes?” I would ask, launching into an explanation if it was needed. A curious passerby turned courageous scape purchaser made me smile every time.

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The market experience is about so much more than generating transactions though, Monkshood grows and sells a dizzying array of certified organic vegetables and herbs, and as the Greenmarket sales rep I get to sample each revolution of the wheel of produce. I’m a link in the seasonal food chain in a way I have never been before, the season’s first appearance of any given vegetable feels like a short visit from a dear old friend. As garlic scapes started rolling in I felt a pang of nervousness that they wouldn’t be featured on the Relay this year – the window of availability being only a few weeks long (however, garlic scapes can keep for up to six weeks in a sealed ziploc bag in the fridge). You can imagine I was very excited to see first Lauren (Burgers with Scape Aioli) and then Carole (Garlic Scape Potato Salad) using garlic scapes in creative ways.

I’m going to pick up the scape baton (after all, how can I resist?) and pair it with the creamy salad baton, using products from two other sections of my local food chain: my CSA and my newest food experiment, my potted herb garden. Small as it is, this is a new frontier for me, and one I hope to expand as I gain more horticultural experience. The temperature in New York is hovering in the 90s, so I’m taking the no-cook route. The stove top will stand as clean, cool and quiet sentry to my scape-y machinations.

Check back on Thursday to find out who will be joining the garlic scapes in my bowl!

Sarah A. Maine is a Co-Founder & Editor of RecipeRelay, on most Sundays she can be found spreading the good news of organic produce at the Monkshood Nursery farm stand at the Jackson Heights Greenmarket in Queens, NY.