By Cassie Johnston
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I’m not sure if garlic scapes are a “thing” to anyone who doesn’t grow garlic (are they?), but if you do grow garlic, you definitely know the joy of scapes. Scapes are the little curlicue shoots that come off of hardneck garlic plants in early summer. If you let them hang out on the plant, they’d eventually produce seed pods, which could eventually turn into bulbs. But since the entire goal of growing garlic is to create a big ole plump garlic head below the ground, most garlic growers snip off these scapes when they show up to divert all that extra energy down to the root.
Some garlic growers just toss the scapes in the compost, but that’s a shame, because they’re definitely edible and totally delicious. They have a mild garlic flavor, but with a bit of brightness that you don’t normally find in just your regular clove of garlic. They definitely have a flavor all their own.
If you aren’t growing garlic (and why the heck aren’t you, since it’s literally one of the easiest vegetables to grow?), you can sometimes find scapes at your local farmer’s market. But the season is extremely limited. You might go to the market one week and see dozens of vendors with scapes, and no one will have them the next. Stock up while you can!
Scapes are also awesome because scape season means that the garlic harvest is right around the corner (it’s about a month after you snip off the scapes that the garlic is ready). And I love, love, love digging into the garlic bed and pulling up beautiful bunches of garlic. It’s definitely one of my favorite veggies to harvest. With each bulb, I just imagine all the delicious meals I’m going to make over the next year.
The “traditional” way to use garlic scapes is to turn them into a pesto. And it’s awesome. You just follow the normal way of making basil pesto, but sub in fresh scapes for the basil. It freezes well, and makes for a really delicious pasta dish come January when the possibility of fresh food from the garden has long been covered by snow and ice.
We snipped off the scapes from our garlic patch this week, and I did reserve some of the bunch for pesto-making, but I also wanted to try using the scapes in another way—biscuits. I’ve talked about it here before, but learning the proper method for making big, fluffy biscuits is a rite of passage in our family. And while it’s hard to beat the anything-but-standard buttermilk biscuits my Dad makes, I have to say, this scape and cheddar version is pretty high up on the yum-o-meter. It’s like Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Red Lobster (yup, I’m pulling out that reference), but 3000% more delicious.
I’m sure you could try to make these biscuits with whole wheat flour, but, gosh, I believe life is just too short to eat whole grain biscuits. There are a lot (most!) of times in my kitchen where I’m fine with subbing in whole grains, but during biscuit-making isn’t one of them.
I served these cheddar biscuits for Sunday dinner with Ham ’n’ Beans and a big ole Mason jar full of sweet tea. Because that’s how we roll here in the Midwest.
These fluffy, tender garlic scape and cheddar biscuits are the perfect accompaniment to your favorite Sunday dinner. If you don’t have scapes around, subbing in fresh chives would work, as well.
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Oooh those look delish! I love garlic scapes, so I’ll have to try this next time I get some fresh ones from the farm. :)
Thanks for this! I had never had garlic scapes until I got them in my CSA box last week. I got more this week, and I’ve been trying to figure out new ways to use them. These biscuits look wonderful!
I LOVE garlic scapes. I usually use them to make pesto, but I’m going to have to set a few aside for these biscuits this year!
I saw an awesome episonde of Ricardo a long time ago when he went to a garlic farm and was talking about garlic scapes.
I’ve never tried them before but they sound pretty cool. He made this recipe for Pasta with a garlic scape pesto that sounded awesome.
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