What Are Garlic Scapes And How Do You Use Them?

If you're the kind of person who substitutes two to three garlic cloves for every one in the recipe, garlic scapes are your new go-to allium. Garlic scapes are similar to scallions, but they contain a subtle garlicky taste rather than the sharp onion flavor of scallions. 

According to Bon Appétit, garlic scapes are part of the garlic plant — just not the part we're used to seeing at the grocery store. These green tube-like stalks grow out of the garlic bulb and can flower if they're left unharvested, but farmers usually cut the scapes from the plant so that the plant's energy can be better used to grow the garlic bulb.

Garlic scapes can be eaten in a variety of ways. They can be sprinkled raw over a savory meal or incorporated into a dish. When cooked, they act more like garlic, infusing a meal with that special, irreplaceable flavor we all know and love. Similar to asparagus in texture, garlic scapes are not to be confused with green garlic, which is the young garlic plant that's harvested before the bulb forms (via Chatelaine).

You might not find garlic scapes at every grocery store you visit, but your local farmer's market is sure to have some for you — and the good news is, they'll stay fresh in your fridge for a few weeks (via Bon Appétit).

How to use garlic scapes

Garlic scapes can be used like scallions, as an easy and flavorful garnish, or they can take on a more central role in a dish. If you're a big garlic fan, try substituting the basil leaves in pesto for garlic scapes — if you're feeling hesitant about using that much garlic, you can use half basil leaves and half scapes (via Bon Appétit).

Chatelaine recommends sautéeing garlic scapes in butter, adding a little salt, and eating them on a burger, sandwich, or even as a side veggie dish. If you're more interested in garlic as a complementary flavor than the main event, you can add garlic scapes to butter and cook something else in it. Serious Eats even has a scape compound butter to make a new and improved garlic bread loaf.

For the real scape-heads, nothing beats The New York Times' Double Garlic Soup recipe. With a combination of garlic scapes and green garlic, both of which are sautéed then puréed with vegetable broth, milk, and potatoes, this soup lets the subtly sweet flavors of garlic in all its forms take center stage.