Learning to feed yourself can be one of the most terrifying things. Am I about to give myself food poisoning? If I eat this too often will I end up with scurvy? How can I get the most nutritional bang for my buck? Why does this still taste like ass?
With Ode to My Pantry, learn to navigate a grocery store without having a meltdown in aisle three. Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a queer to cook and stave off malnutrition for another semester.
A lot of blogs introducing scapes for the first time will tell you that scapes taste “much milder” than their bulbous bretheren. Do not believe them! I just shoved one in my maw and I’m 90% sure I can breathe fire. If you normally buy local garlic grown in sulfurous soil, scapes will taste mild by comparison, but don’t be fooled. If garlic scapes are your first foray into local garlic (because you normally chop up something shipped from the other side of the ocean), watch yourself and your tastebuds. Because seriously, you’ll woo people with your fire breathing abilities but then miss your chance to kiss them.
So how do you tame the flame?
Embrace it. Given that it’s already green and garlicky, it’s a short jump from plant to pesto. Throw a few stems into your food processor with some Parmesan, lemon, nuts and oil for a pungent spread. You can also throw in some chard or other greenery if you want to soften the blow. And then just smear it on everything.
Blanch ’em. Slice up the stems (especially if they’re woody) and blanche them to reduce the bite. The pungency will give way to a sweetness akin to roasted garlic. If you’re not familiar with blanching, you’re just looking to cook your foodstuff in salted boiling water until it has brightened up (due to the vacuoles collapsing) before plunging it in ice water. By halting the cooking process so dramatically, you can retain the fresh colour and texture and more of the nutrients. Like all of the vitamin C!
You can treat your cooked scapes like garlicky asparagus and throw them into your next stirfry or crudite. Given that they contain shittons of organosulfur compounds imparting that familiar garlic pungency, I like to dress my scape salad with a strong mustard vinaigrette since mustard’s isothiocyanate compounds are worthy adversaries. The flavours pair so well, that you can even make a garlic scape mustard if you have the time.
Roasted. Just like kale, broccoli and other sulfurous vegetables become all sorts of delicious with a bit of char. Throw them in the oven with a bit of olive oil and pull out your green bean alternative. You could do a lot worse than a scape carbonara or a pizza topped with scapes.
Pickled. Spicy pickled beans and asparagus are pretty much the best part of any Caesar and the garlickier the better. Why not just skip a step and stir your drink with something already infused with garlic? Given the scapes’ hearty nature, they’ll stand to anything you throw at them! Given their perplexing shape, it’s easiest to cut them in half and save the curly portion for one jar and the straights for their own. I like to hot pickle ’em and shove my jar full of Bay leaves, yellow mustard seeds, black peppercorns, chili flakes, coriander seeds and dill sprigs before I pour over my brine. They’ll morph from lackluster to fluorescent to drab as the brine works it’s magic. After a few weeks they’re ready to go.
Just make sure to pop a mint if you care about that kind of thing. You chew you.