Spring’s secret ingredient: cooking with garlic scapes.

They’re here—in my own garden and at farmers’ markets—just in the last week: Garlic scapes!

What is a garlic scape, you ask? The scape is the little curlicue sprout that shoots from the top of a hardneck garlic plant. Many home gardeners and professional growers cut off the garlic scape to direct the plant’s energy toward growing a fat bulb (the underground part) with large, flavorful cloves. In our hardiness zone 6a, scapes typically arrive in early June, and garlic is harvested in late June to early July. (See here for a how-to on growing garlic. You should absolutely try it.)

Garlic scapes have a milder, “greener” flavor than garlic cloves, and you can chop the green parts and use them in place of (or in addition to) the cloves. Garlic scapes make a healthful way to add taste and interest to your springtime cooking.

I snipped a few garlic scapes from my garden last weekend, chopped them and tossed them with a pint of cherry tomatoes, some fresh thyme, and a glug of olive oil, then grill-roasted them in a foil packet for 20 minutes. Divine!!

Like everything wonderful, garlic scapes are a fleeting, seasonal pleasure. If you can find a bagful at your farmers’ market, by all means bring some home.

About the illustration: The generous and talented Linda Cassady provided the lovely image of garlic scapes. Linda is a Chicago-based illustrator and designer with a soft spot for ordinary beauty and a strong sense of visual optimism. She and I met at a HOW Design Conference eons ago and have stayed in touch. See more of Linda’s work in her illustration portfolio.

What to do with garlic scapes?

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