Scapes straight to the table

“You mean I could have actually made money with these instead of throwing them on the compost?” asked our neighbor last year when I told him about garlic scapes being sold at upscale farmer’s markets. His family has farmed the land for generations, long before organic farming, CSA, slow food, locavore, and all the other wholesome and eco-conscious food trends came about.

His father gave me valuable gardening advice that sounded like it was coming straight from the Farmer’s Almanac, such as “Don’t plant tomatoes before the full moon in May.”  I think he got a kick out of seeing that city girl getting into gardening, and he surely wondered whether I would ever harvest anything. He passed away before my garden really started to thrive but his wife was still around then. She was confined to a wheelchair and spent the most part of every summer day on her porch, from where she waved to me when I passed by on my bike on the way to the post office.

Knowing how much she loved watermelon, I promised her a share of my first watermelon. When it was finally ripe, my husband phoned her to tell her he would bring it over but said he wanted to alert her it was so big that he had to take the truck. After that day, until she died, every time I stopped on my bike for a quick chat, she raved about how sweet that watermelon had been, then drifted off into an endless chuckle about the truck being needed to deliver it.

Back to scapes. Last year, I made scape pesto and scape butter. Both were good but I found that after a few days, the garlic flavor becomes too pungent and overpowering. I think it is best to eat scapes within a couple of days. So now I am picking not more than 2 to 3 scapes at once to make only a small amount of a dish. Unlike most days, the goal is: no leftovers.

Scape Topping for Pasta

2 to 3 scapes

½ to ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil


Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan

1. Cut the pointy tips off the scapes and discard. Finely chop the scapes.

2. Slowly warm the olive oil in a small saucepan. The oil should not be hot so the scapes won’t sizzle when you add them. Remove from the heat and stir in the scapes. Let sit for a few minutes, then season with salt and pepper. Serve over whole-wheat spaghetti with plenty of Parmesan.

Makes 2 servings

Feta Cheese Balls with Scapes and Hazelnuts

2 to 3 scapes

15 whole hazelnuts

8 ounces feta cheese

Extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

1. Cut the pointy tips off the scapes and discard. Slice the scapes very thinly.

2. Lightly toast the hazelnuts. Set aside to cool. Rub off most of the skins and discard. Chop the hazelnuts coarsely.

3. Process the feta in a food processor to a very fine crumble. With slightly damp hands, form six compact cheese balls of the same size.

4. Pour a small amount of olive oil on a plate. Mix the scape slices and the hazelnuts with freshly ground pepper on another large plate.

5. Roll the cheese balls first in olive oil to coat lightly, then in the scape and hazelnut mix, pressing it gently into the cheese. Cover with plastic foil and refrigerate until serving.

Makes 3 servings

3 thoughts on “Scapes straight to the table

  1. The watermelon story has something of “fortune favors fool” 😉 I was not so happy with my first (and only) honey melon harvest: was in the very hot summer ’93 when I was working in a small town in the middle of now-where: people threw their left overs on the excavated earth on that building yard and some weeks later we realized that there were tomatoe and melon plants growing. We put them into a quiet but sunny corner and were rather excited to see them grow. At the end we harvested for weeks good tomatoes and decided one friday to pick the honey melon the following monday when the hole staff would be there. Bad decision! During the week-end someone stole our beloved melon! I am still angry 😉

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