As I look at the increasingly greenness of my gardens, I prepare with eager anticipation the creation of wonderful meals full of freshness and vitality. I am the consummate veggie girl even though I have added the wonderful meats of Asgaard Farm and Mace Chasm Farm to my diet. I long for grilled vegetables, raw chopped salad greens, fresh nibbles of peas and tomatoes straight from the vines. Every week there seems to be a new treasure ripening in the garden, as another finishes bearing its gifts. And this is the way nature intended for us to eat: seasonally, partaking in the ever-changing bounty, indulging in the variety of colors, flavors and nutrients that abound in the gardens and farmers markets.
Entering the month of July, I find the last vestiges of asparagus being replaced by ripening currants and blueberries, red raspberries —and scapes! Scapes are the flower-heads of hard-neck garlic. Gardeners know that by removing these serpent-like flower heads, more energy goes into producing larger garlic bulbs later this summer. And that’s a good thing! We love garlic (who doesn’t?) for its robust flavor, its medicinal value and its pungent, bug-repelling qualities. It is nutritious beyond our wildest dreams, being full of healthful sulfur compounds, mildly thinning the blood, and possessing antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties to boot.
Getting back to scapes: a google search will bring up many ideas for cooking and using scapes in everything from omelettes to pesto. My favorite and one of the simplest ways to prepare scapes is on the grill. While your grill is medium hot, place your scapes in a large bowl and drizzle good olive oil over them. With clean hands, rub them down, making sure you gently coat each scape with a thin film of the oil. Grill as you would thin asparagus, turning them just as they start to tenderize and before they blacken! Scapes done in this way are delectable. The thin ends are crisp, while the thicker stems are more akin to asparagus, with a lovely mild garlic flavor. I love to eat these as a side dish next to a perfectly grilled, grass-fed beef burger from our neighbor cows at Asgaard Farm. A large green salad with thinly sliced fresh radishes and cucumbers, topped with a drizzling of good peach vinegar and olive oil rounds out a perfect summertime meal, low in carbohydrates , full of nutrition and loaded with the flavors of the season. You can find scapes now at your farmers markets in the Adirondacks, and they are finishing up their short season in New Jersey, so seek them out now! Consider growing your own hard-neck garlic this fall. There are many sources of good seed garlic: I have used Vermont Garlic for several years and Peaceful Valley in California also sells good-quality bulbs. It is a very easy plant to grow, neither fussy nor demanding. And you get great scapes in spring!