Garlic Scapes: What are they and how do you use them?

These are garlic scapes.

These are garlic scapes.

My husband and I love to go to the farmer’s market on the weekend. We often look for ingredients we haven’t seen before so that we can experiment with something new. Last year around this time, we found a farmer who was selling something really weird and interesting. After talking with the farmer and learning more about the product, we found out later they were garlic scapes. This year, we decided to grow hardneck garlic in our vegetable garden and I was able to harvest the scapes last week. After visiting the farmer’s market this weekend, we were able to find some items to pair with our scapes and have an absolutely fabulous recipe to share with you.

First, lets answer the question of what are garlic scapes. They are the flowers of a hardneck garlic, however, the flowers never actually appear. The scapes are harvested to promote more energy into bulb production instead of flowering. As you can see in the picture below, the scape is the curled stem emerging between the leaves. It is edible and has a mild garlic flavor. A garlic flavor that complements risotto just perfectly.

Scapes before they are harvested from the garlic plant.

Scapes before they are harvested from the garlic plant.

Let’s get to cooking! We are making Wild Mushroom & Garlic Scape Creamy Risotto.

Great as a small appetizer or full dinner for guests and family.

Great as a small appetizer or full dinner for guests and family.

Here are the ingredients that you need for this recipe:

– 1 Walla Walla onion, finely diced

– 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced

– 4 Tablespoons olive oil

– Salt and Pepper

– 6 cups chicken stock

– 2 cups arborio rice

– 1 cup dry white wine, Chateau Ste. Michele Dry Riesling worked nicely

– 5 ounces crimini mushrooms

– 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms

– 4 ounces oyster mushrooms

– 5 to 6 garlic scapes, removing top 2 inches of flower which can be woody

– 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

– 1/2 cup heavy cream

– 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, plus some for topping


In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring your chicken stock to a boil. Once boiling keep the temperature maintained so that it will remain hot. While your stock is coming to a boil, prepare your mushrooms. You will want to clean them gently with a wet paper towel and do not submerge them in water. Keep the stems and set them aside. Once the mushrooms are cleaned, slice so they are about 1/4″ thick.

Clean mushrooms with a wet paper towel.

Clean mushrooms with a wet paper towel.

With the stems that you set aside, rinse them with a strainer. Making sure to remove all the dirt and then add them to your stock. The stems will steep in the stock and give it a mushroom flavor.

Using mushroom stems in stock can add another flavor dimension.

Using mushroom stems in stock can add another flavor dimension.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, slowly cook your finely diced onion in olive oil until they are translucent and tender. Add your garlic until it is fragrant and cook for roughly 1 minute. Season your onions and garlic with salt and pepper. Next you will add your Arborio rice and toast it for about 1 to 2 minutes.

The start to an absolutely fabulous meal!

Now deglaze your sauté pan with dry white wine. Make sure it is one that you love to drink because the favor will become concentrated in the recipe. Plus it makes a great complement to serve the risotto with white wine. Let the wine reduce to about half.

Pick a wine that you like to drink as it will concentrate in the risotto.

Pick a wine that you like to drink as it will concentrate in the risotto.

After the wine has reduced, ladle in chicken stock – only one ladle at a time. Continue stirring until the stock has evaporated and repeat this process. Stirring as much as possible.

Put in one ladle of chicken stock at a time and let it reduce.

Put in one ladle of chicken stock at a time and let it reduce.

Now we are going to cook our mushrooms. In a separate sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat.

Do not salt or stir mushrooms as they cook.

Do not salt or stir mushrooms as they cook.

Add your sliced mushrooms to the pan and cook until golden brown. It is best to not stir them very frequently and do not add salt until after they are cooked all the way. Once your mushrooms are golden brown, season with salt and add your garlic scapes.

Add chopped garlic scapes to mushrooms.

Add chopped garlic scapes to mushrooms.

Let the mushrooms and scapes marry in flavor for about 3 minutes. Add butter and let melt over medium heat. Taste the mushroom mixture and season with salt and pepper to your preferred taste.

Season each mixture while cooking.

Season each mixture while cooking.

Back to our Arborio rice, you will know when the rice is cooked because it will release its starches and start to look creamy. It is important to taste all the components of the dish. Once the rice is al dente, go ahead and remove from heat. With your mushroom mixture, add cream and stir to incorporate. Now add your mushroom mixture to your Arborio rice. Next add your parmesan cheese. Taste to see that the seasonings are too your liking and if not add more salt and pepper.

Great as a small appetizer or full dinner for guests and family.

Great as a small appetizer or full dinner for guests and family.

Serve as a small appetizer for dinner parties or a large weekend meal. Top your plated risotto with a bit more parmesan cheese, pour a glass of that dry white wine and enjoy!


About P.S. I ♥ Peas

Ever since I was a child, I remember falling in love with flowers. My first flower memory was being intrigued by the blooms of Bleeding Heart (Dicentra). Love of nature and art led me into pursuing a degree in horticulture & landscape design. For 15+ years, I worked for different wholesale companies including Proven Winners, Spring Meadow Nursery (Proven Winners ColorChoice Flowering Shrubs) and Zelenka Nursery. Then in 2013, I started my own business Flora & Fauna Media, which specializes in public relations outreach from social media to media publications. Now, I am focusing on being a Stay-At-Home mom and my writing career. I garden on less than an acre of property near Seattle, Washington. Making the most of my space was extremely important to efficiency, which led to removing lots of grass. Now, our property is a sanctuary filled with fruits (blueberries, apples, strawberries, raspberries, cantaloupe, fig and huckleberries), vegetables (kale, beets, peas, tomatoes, squash, potatoes, cardoon, zucchini, green beans, peppers, tomatillos and sorrel) and herbs (rosemary, chives, thyme, mint, oregano, lemon verbena, pineapple sage and sage). Growing our own food is an important mission to me and with a young child teaching is valuable knowledge to pass down generation after generation . If you teach a man to garden, he will eat for life! My husband and I love to cook together. We find new recipes and try them weekly. Wildcrafting has become a fun additional to this pastime. Harvesting stinging nettles or dandelions and making them into something that is edible and delicious is so rewarding.
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12 Responses to Garlic Scapes: What are they and how do you use them?

  1. That is an awesome first personal blog post! Can I come to your house for dinner?? It looks so good I can almost smell it simmering.

  2. Cathy Testa says:

    I saw some of these scapes at a market just last nite, now I have info on how to cook them, thank you! Cathy Testa

  3. Very, very nice blog. Your pictures are amazing and the dinner looks fantastic!

  4. Carolyn Pinkard says:

    I am going to look for garlic scapes at the farmers market next week. Thanks for the great recipe. I loved the blog and look forward to reading many more.

    • Thanks Carolyn! I hope you are able to find scapes at your local market. Feel free to subscribe (upper right) to my blog; so you receive an email each time that I have a post go live! 🙂

  5. Kylee Baumle says:

    I’ve grown hard neck garlic for several years and this year was the first year I didn’t! 😦 I’m going to grow it next year for sure. I need to find some online to buy to plant this fall. (You know we don’t have those great garden centers like you do there in the PNW!)

    I wish I lived closer to you, Danielle, for several reasons. But one of them is that you give me personal lessons in cooking! 😉 Great informative post! Perfect photo illustrations of the steps.

    • Thanks for the comments, Kylee! Coming from an experienced blogger it means so much to me. This is the first year that I grew hardneck garlic. Was able to find a bulb at the farmer’s market to plant, not a garden center. At our local farmer’s markets many of the vendors have scapes for sale. I wish I lived closer to you, Kylee, as well. You are such a wonderful friend and it means so much to me that you enjoyed my first blog post. Thank you! 🙂 Hugs!

  6. Aunt Sheila says:

    Great Blog. The discussion is right on and the photos are very professional. I will visit often!
    Your site reminds me of Don’s Niece and her husband. She cooks he bakes.
    See you soon????

    Aunt Sheila

    • Thanks Aunt Shelia! I have you to credit for turning me onto risotto. Your place was the first time that I had it and the first recipe I got for it. I’m glad you enjoy the content and the images. That really means a lot to me! 🙂 Feel free to subscribe in the upper right corner via email – then each time I post a new blog; you will receive an email. I would love to see Don’s nieces blog. Make sure to forward me the link. We are planning to head to Michigan for Thanksgiving as always, but you and Don are more than welcome to come stay with us. – Danielle

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