Garlic Scapes – With A Recipe

No, these are not garlic scapes

One of the joys of being a gardener and a cook is taking what you’ve grown and turning it into a dish that delights your family and friends. But, let’s say you took a vacation right around the time you should have been planting,(who knew we’d have such great early weather?) everything is still in its infancy and you’ve got foodie friends coming for dinner. What do you do when the lettuce is too small to even be called ‘micro greens’?  

Garlic scapes to the rescue!  

These are garlic scapes

The scape is the flower stem and bud of hardneck garlic varieties. This stem is removed soon after it emerges to concentrate the plant’s energy in the bulb. Until recently, most people just threw them on the compost pile. Then, someone somewhere discovered that they were tasty, and they began appearing at  farmers’ markets and on restaurant menus –  it’s always nice to make a little money on something that used to be garbage. The fact that they appear in the early spring, before our growing season really ramps-up makes them even more appealing to winter-weary New Englanders.  

While I’ve used them as a seasoning a few times in the past, I wanted a recipe where they could be the star of the show. After an hour or more of wading through on-line recipes for pesto – there are a million of those – and stir-frys that used a ton of other vegetables, I hit pay dirt. Sort of. A kind-of fussy thing called ‘Composed Salad of Wild Mushrooms and Garlic Scapes with Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette and Bottgara Shavings.’
Oh, please.  A recipe that starts with taking three days to make your own preserved lemons? A cheese I’ve never heard of, let alone seen? You can do that if you’re Dante Boccuzi of NY’s Aureole restaurant, but there’s probably a simpler way to do this.
Mushroom and Garlic Scape salad, with a Lemon Vinaigrette? That I can do.
I started by preparing the mushrooms. Lucky for me, we had made a trip to the Sid Wainer Gourmet Outlet in New Bedford that week and scored some fresh morels (see top photo), another short-season spring treat. After washing them well, I cut them into quarters and left them to drain on paper towels. I know, that’s a high-dollar ingredient, but a mix of wild and domestic mushrooms works just as well.

Scape on the step

Next, prepping the scapes. Start by removing the tip and flower bud – that’s the light-colored, slightly swollen part in the picture. It’s not tender, not matter what you do to it.  Slice thin or chop the rest of the scape.

Chopped scapes

 This all comes together fast once you start cooking, so I wanted to put the dressing together before I turned on the stove. It’s a simple one – olive oil, lemon juice and white wine vinegar, with a dash of salt and pepper. Just whisk  ’em together.  

Easy-Peasy Dressing!

 Next comes the fun part. Swirl a tablespoon of olive oil around in your skillet and heat it on medium-high. Brown the mushrooms. This will take 5 minutes or more, depending on how much water cooks out of them. Add the garlic scapes, a little salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of good butter. Saute until the scapes are tender, about 4 more minutes.  

Can you smell them?

To serve, divide the mixture among your guests’ plates. Top with greens – I used pea shoots, another spring obsession of mine, but mesclun or baby spinach would be just as good. Spoon a little of the dressing over the top, and enjoy.  

Dig In!

 So, at least I was prepared with one dish from my garden when Bill and Suz came for dinner last Friday. Good friends, good wine, good food, – who could ask for more?  The scapes were a hit. We were having so much fun, I didn’t realize until I was clearing the dishes that I had forgotten to take pictures! Ah, well. Had to make it again… such a hardship!  

Garlic Scape and Mushroom Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette (serves two)  

for the mushroom mix:  

3 cups sliced raw mushrooms a mix of wild and cultivated  

1/2 cup thinly sliced garlic scapes  

1 Tbsp olive oil  

1 Tablespoon butter  

Salt and Pepper to taste  

for the dressing, whisk together:  

3 Tbsp olive oil  

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice  

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar  

dash of salt and pepper  

to serve:  

fresh salad greens  


Clean mushrooms and slice fairly thickly. Saute in the olive oil at medium high for 5 minutes, or until browned. Add garlic scapes and butter. Saute for a few more minutes, until scapes are tender and bright green.  

Divide mixture evenly between serving plates. Top with greens and drizzle with dressing. (You will not need all of the vinegrette. Save the rest for another salad.)  



 Easy to scale-up for more people, just figure 1 1/2 cups of mushrooms and 1/4 cup of scapes per person 

The original recipe topped the salad with cheese, but I found that it didn’t really add anything to the flavors.  

Original recipe can be found at  


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