Before I learned how to drive, I learned how to describe garlic scapes. Anytime I was asked by a table in the restaurant where I worked, I answered, diligent and practiced: scapes are the tendril-like stalks that grow out of garlic. Then I'd say the soup that they were in was fantastic, and that if I had to choose, I'd drink the Viognier alongside. I was sixteen.
I didn't learn to cook with scapes until much later, and it wasn't until I did that I fully understood their charm. They're whimsical, their flavor perky but reined-in, like an eccentric but polite new friend. They became what I added to a dish when I wanted garlic but didn't want to commit to its assertive bite.
I've never put them in a soup of my own -- something about closing a chapter -- but pesto is beginning to make a regular appearance at dinner. Toss it with pasta, spread it on toast; thin it with more olive oil and it'll become a happy alternative to whatever you've been dressing your salads with.
Garlic scapes know not to overstay their welcome; they're harvested early so that their fellow bulbs can flourish. This means you'll have to find them soon, and cook them now.
Garlic Scape Pesto
1 cup garlic scapes, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste
Get the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.
Photos by Eric Moran
This article originally appeared on Food52.com: Garlic Scape Pesto