June 12, 2013 at 11:41 AM ET
Greenmarket devotees who have been lining up to buy ramps—those garlicky wild onions that have been going for upwards of $17 a pound the past few years—have found another trendy member of the allium family to obsess over: garlic scapes.
For years, gardeners and even farmers have been lopping off garlic scapes—the stalks of hardneck garlic plants—and tossing them in compost piles, but over the past couple of years, people have become more aware that they’re not just edible, but delicious, said Cheryl Rogowski of W. Rogowski Farm in Orange County, N.Y., who sells garlic scapes at the Carroll Gardens Greenmarket in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Sundays.
The curly green stalks—which just came into season and will be around for about another month—have a distinct garlic flavor, with a sharper green note. Interestingly, Rogowski has also noticed home cooks swarming around them even more so than chefs.
“We’re definitely selling a lot more. People used to say, ‘What is that thing?’ and grab them gingerly,” she said. “Now, they grab them in armfuls.”
Years ago, you’d never see garlic scapes in grocery stores, but today, stores like Whole Foods Market can’t keep them in stock, said David McIntyre, an associate coordinator for the market chain, which typically sells the scapes for about $3 to $4 a bunch.
“When we get them, they sell out the same day. If I see them, I grab them—they’re not likely to be around that long,” he told TODAY.com, adding that last year was the first year he noticed a real awareness about them.
Use garlic scapes anywhere you’d use garlic, or toss them in salads, grill them with a little olive oil and salt, or stuff them in a roast chicken, advised Rogowski, who has a host of garlic scape recipes on her blog, including one for a pesto.
“How do you like to cook your asparagus? Cook it that way,” said McIntyre, who also recommends tossing them on a grill or trying them in a pesto.
And if you want to enjoy the trendy veggies beyond their short window, you can freeze them as long as you’ve kept them refrigerated, Rogowski said. Just chop them, put them in a zip-top bag and freeze—after all, who knows how expensive they’ll be next year.