We’re currently in the middle of another one of those five-minute long vegetable seasons that gets foodies’ motors running at high RPMs. This time it’s scapes you’ll find making a cameo at the green market.
According to the Accidental Hedonist, “scapes are those long, smooth, curly green things. They are the tops of garlic and farmers cut them off so that the plant grows the garlic bulb instead of a garlic flower.” This is the kind of thing that would, up until people like you started developing a taste for interesting vegetables and plants, have gotten thrown out with the wheat chaff and the corn stalks. New York Times writer Melissa Clark related the following tidbits from her search for scapes:
My urgency amused Bill Maxwell, of Maxwell Farms in Changewater, N.J., who, after telling me to cool my heels until mid-June, offered a pearl of scapes insight.
Although they’ve been gaining a following over the last few years, he said, scapes came to market “when someone figured out they could make money from something they were cutting off the garlic plant and getting rid of.”
Peter Hoffman, the chef at Savoy, added, “At some point someone realized the scapes were tender and delicious.” He suggested that I sauté them with other vegetables or soft-shell crabs, or even grill them whole to show off their curves.
Clark offers a few scape and green-garlic recipes in the Times piece, but almost more informative were her descriptions of how she came to use the short-lived greens. The kind of food writing that includes not just the recipe/prep process, but the thought process that led to the recipe, always makes a project more attractive, and Clark offers plenty such insight.
Of course, not everybody has the time to experiment with weird, hyper-seasonal veggies. It’s better to let professionals handle that kind of thing anyway. You could use the MenuPages find-a-food search to see if any restaurants in the area have added scapes to their menus.
However you get ahold of them, you’d better act quickly, because these fleeting greens will be off the shelves in a matter of weeks, not to return till next year.