Garlic Scapes: The Silly Serpent of the Garlic World…

Garlic scapes are crazy little budded flower stems that look like a plant gone haywire!



Garlic scapes. These unique edibles coil and twirl, and have a head and beak where the flower would pop out if left on the plant. Also called “serpent garlic” farmers harvest them so that the plant does not go to seed, thus dedicating the rest of the growing season to the important bulb formation.

In this day of awareness that we should eat root to stem whenever possible, garlic obliges nicely. Every part of the garlic plant is edible, and these wonderful mildly garlic flavored green scapes, unique in flavor and texture, are not to be discarded.

They’re here!

In season at early summer, you’ll find garlic scapes at farm stands and farmers’ markets for several weeks, and that means right now in Vermont.

Garlic scapes also lend themselves to a wide range of culinary uses; you can roast them, grill them, sauté them, pickle them, and use them raw in salads. You can add them to soups, stews, stir-fries, sauces, spreads and compound butters. One of their most popular uses is in a garlic scape pesto!

This garlic scape pesto comes together in moments. Use a nice fruity olive oil for best results. You can use other herbs in the pesto if you like; throw in a tablespoon of minced fresh tarragon, chervil, or lemon balm, or even basil if that is what you have growing in abundance in your garden! This particular recipe is how I made it one day, with what I had on hand. Usually, you’ll find some lemon in my pesto. No lemons in the house, but a nice juicy lime stood in and I actually think I liked it better than the lemon. Neither is necessary for the pesto, but I think it adds a nice dimension. No pine nuts or walnuts either, so pecans filled in, and added a lovely flavor.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic scape pesto
Garlic Scape Pesto is delicious and quick to make, using a part of the garlic that some would throw on the compost heap. A little citrus, some olive oil, nuts, salt and pepper, and you have an instant pasta or protein sauce or party dip.


1 cup chopped garlic scapes

1/3 cup Italian parsley or favorite mild herb

¼ cup toasted pecans or other nuts

Zest of one lime

Tbsp. of the juice of that lime

½ cup or so of extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Place the scapes, parsley, nuts, lemon zest and juice in a food processor on pulse. When the mixture becomes a pulp, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Garlic Scape and Goat Cheese Crostini

garlic scape crostini
Garlic Scape Crostini is quick to put together and always a hit at the party. You can also make this with cream cheese.

In a mixing bowl, soften:

4 ounces of goat cheese, I use Vermont Butter and Cheese Co. plain goat cheese, but you can experiment with one you like.

Finely mince:

A couple of garlic scapes

You can do this in a food processor if you like. Add this to the bowl along with:

1 tbsp. minced purple onion

1 tbsp. minced, fresh parsley

A pinch of dried red pepper flakes

A squeeze of lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix well and let sit for at least an hour to let everything get acquainted. Tomorrow, it will be even better.

Toast sourdough bread slices slightly under the broiler and then spread with cheese mixture. Pop back under the broiler for a few minutes, just until the cheese softens and starts to bubble.

Top with:

Fresh parsley

A slice of roasted sweet red pepper

A nice a drizzle of fruity olive oil.


Week-night Stir Fry with Roasted Garlic Scapes

Stir Fry with Garlic Scapes
A simple stir-fry on a weeknight is transformed by adding a few roasted garlic scapes to the top. Just drizzle with olive oil and roast for 12-15 minutes in a 450-degree oven. You can also just chop up the scapes and add to the sauté pan along with the onions and mushrooms.

© Copyright 2018 – or current year, Dorothy Grover-Read