Don’t believe everything you read. When researching how to grow garlic, every source I read said garlic from seed was next to impossible or took years to mature. Bulbs were the way to go. So a year ago, out of curiosity, I left some scapes on the plants I grew from bulbs. You know, just for fun. Just to see what the flowers would look and smell like. (For what it’s worth, the flowers reek of garlic and are not nearly as pretty as their cousin chives.) Having completed this casual little go-to-seed experiment, I learned two things.
1. Removing the scapes from garlic does indeed produce a bigger crop.
2. Garlic from seed is not only possible, it’s prolific. This is what I ended up with —
Three pounds of scapes. The cat is there for perspective. This isn’t a small bowl of scapes. This is the biggest bowl in the set and it’s brimming.
Plus he really, really liked the garlic scapes.
He liked them so much, I ended up providing him with a “sacrifice scape” so he would leave mine alone.
He hung out with his half-munched scape while I tried to figure out what to do with the harvest.
Unexpected point 3 — Cats and garlic breath don’t make a good combination.
Invasion of the Garlic Scapes
Seems garlic is as bad as zucchini. Last fall, I planted about 50 garlic bulbs. This planned harvest is growing happily in the front rose bed, basking in full sun. Thanks to my laissez-faire experiment, I have close to 200 uncalled for volunteers. And they have elbowed their way into any spot not blanketed in grass.
Despite sprouting in inappropriate locations, I can’t bear to waste good garlic when local garlic is hard to come by. So, I exercised three pounds’ worth of garlic birth control and then sat on the porch with the cat to think. He suggested eating them as is.
This guy also licks toads, so I ignored his advice and made garlic scape pesto. That used up about 12 whole stalks. Next, I drizzled a bunch with oil, sprinkled them with coarse salt and then grilled them over direct heat as a side dish. That left 2 pounds, so I made a pot of Garlic Scape Soup. Only one pound to go.
So I made more soup.
As, I rummaged about in the fridge making space for the soup, I came across another bag of scapes picked a couple of days ago and forgotten about in all the fuss.
I give up. Fetch me the cat.
- 1lb garlic scapes, cut in 2-inch pieces, flower heads removed (about 4 generous cups)
- 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock for a vegetarian soup)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- generous grindfreshly ground black pepper
- generous pinch fine sea salt
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon chili flakes
- ¼ cup whipping cream (35%)
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 12 fresh basil leaves
- ½ large lemon, juice and zest
- Prepare the scapes: Cut the flower heads off the scapes and discard them. Chop the remaining stems into 2-inch pieces. In a saucepan, gently heat the stock over medium while you cook the scapes.
- Cook the scapes: Heat the oil in a large, heavy sauce pan over medium and cook the scapes for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, or until they soften. The timing will vary depending on how thick the scapes are. Add the salt, pepper and chili flakes and cook for a minute or two.
- Simmer the stock: Pour the hot stock over the scapes and cook with the lid askew, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the scapes are fully cooked and losing their bright green colour but have not turned dead-broccoli grey.
- Purée the soup: Working in batches, purée the soup until smooth. You need to use a standard blender since an immersion blender won't get the scapes smooth enough. Scapes can be a bit pulpy, so purée the soup well. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if needed. Keep the soup warm over low heat until you're ready to serve.
- Add the finishing touches: Just before serving, stir in the cream, Parmesan, basil, lemon juice and zest.