One of things I love most about living in Portland is the huge variety of fruits and vegetables at my fingertips. Almost every time I go to the market, I find something I’ve never tasted before. Like the sunchokes I made for you back in February.
Well a few weeks ago, I discovered a little thing called garlic scapes, also known as garlic spears. Garlic spears are the top part of the garlic plant, comprised of a long stem and a petite bulb that is the plant’s flower bud.
Sounds bizarre, doesn’t it? I’ve grown up my whole life eating garlic and never once did I think about what happened to the spears. Truth be told, I think most people would say the same thing. From what research I’ve done on this little green veggie, it seems as though almost no one (at least in the U.S.) thought to eat the spears of garlic until recently. The spears were lopped off and tossed aside into a compost bin at best and a landfill at worst.
But after my first bite of these savory gems, I’m horrified and appalled that so many of them have gone to waste in the past…I’m even more appalled that I spent the first 20-something years of my life without eating at least one bundle of them every week that they’re in season. (They are just that delicious!) When roasted, their long, thin stems taste like crunchy asparagus tossed in roasted garlic. The ends, which are shaped like Hershey’s kisses, resemble the heart of an artichoke and are packed with the sweet and savory notes of garlicky goodness.
Plus by consuming the formerly-neglected scapes, we’re contributing to the greater good by utilizing every part of the plant, not just the part that seems convenient for our cooking purposes. Doing so makes a small dent in the move towards supporting more sustainable farming systems and that’s something we can all feel good about.
Bourré was just as curious about the scapes when I came home with them as you probably are right now. Only difference is that you can actually go out and eat these little babies…dogs, unfortunately for Bou, can’t eat garlic. Don’t feel too sorry for him, though. I gave him some peanut butter to make up for it ;)
Roasted Garlic Scapes (Spears)
- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 bunch of garlic spears (about 1 pound)
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- salt and pepper, to taste (a good course sea salt would be ideal)
- optional: parmesan-reggiano, shaved
- Pre-heat oven or grill to 425 degrees F.
- Trim off 1 inch from the bottom of the spears as well as the brown part of any tips.
- Heat a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spears to the skillet and toss until coated. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until they are slightly tender. If they look like they are drying out, add 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Remove from heat, add butter, salt, and pepper, and toss.
- If using a grill, place spears directly on the grill grate, making sure the internal temperature of the grill is at least 425 degrees F. If using an oven, place cast iron skillet directly in the preheated oven (preheated to 425 degrees F) with spears in it. Grill/roast for another 7-10 minutes, or until the spears begin to char slightly.
- Remove from grill/oven and eat hot or serve cold, with or without shaved parmesan-reggiano cheese on top. You can also add the spears to salads, pastas, and soups…get creative with it!