For the longest time before we knew that garlic scapes were, in fact, garlic scapes, we just called them “those yummy green things”. In China, they are a common vegetable and are usually skewered on a stick, brushed with oil, dusted with five-spice powder and grilled over a charcoal grill. They taste mildly of garlic, and their fresh crunch combined with the intensity of their flavor make them absolutely delicious!
Garlic scapes (I’m not sure why they’re called “scapes” – maybe because they “escape” from the garlic bulbs as they grow) are the long green shoots of the garlic plant. They have to be cut off to allow the garlic bulb to develop, so eating them is one way to use all of the garlic plant in a more sustainable way.
Now, I see garlic scapes all over the web – they are, apparently, one of the trendy new foods that people are starting to explore. Garlic scape pesto is one delicious way that many people are using garlic scapes, but when I picked a bunch up at the market the other day I wanted to enjoy their crispy garlic taste whole. I thought about using them in a stir-fry (I bet they would be delicious stir-fried with some Cantonese-style BBQ pork), but decided to toss them with some pasta instead. A squeeze of lemon juice and a bit of butter dressed the pasta wonderfully, with the garlic scapes providing a fresh punch of garlicky, grassy, flavor. I love garlic, so I added two cloves of chopped garlic, just for that extra measure.
When using garlic scapes, use only the crisp stalks, not the softer part on top of the bud.
Garlic Scape Lemon Pasta
Makes 2 servings
If you want more lemon flavor, add a bit of grated lemon zest.
About 1 ½ cups garlic scapes, chopped into 2-inch pieces
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ pound pasta
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving a cup of the pasta water.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic scapes and minced garlic and stir-fry until scapes are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes (try a piece to make sure the outside of the scapes are not fibrous or tough – if so, cook a minute or two longer). Add the butter and the juice of the lemon and stir together till butter is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the drained pasta and toss with the sauce. Add a bit of the reserved pasta water if pasta is dry. Taste for seasoning and adjust if desired. Serve immediately.