“Scape” is an old botanical term for a stalk that rises from a root. Garlic scapes ascend through the leaves of the plant and then twist into a curl or coil topped by a seed-like bulb.

If left to develop naturally, the garlic plant will throw all its energy into the flower, but when the scapes are harvested in full curl, they themselves are edible – crisp and delicious, with a milder flavor than a head of garlic.

Find them at your local farmers market, and then try this easy garlic scape pizza or the lovely green pesto sauce, or use the scapes in one of the other ways suggested below.

GARLIC SCAPE FOCACCIA PIZZA

Plain or rosemary focaccia makes a great quick pizza base, but you can also use store-bought prebaked pizza rounds or raw dough.

Serve with a tomato and sweet onion salad for a quick, light and delicious supper.

Makes 2-3 servings

One (12-inch round) focaccia (homemade or store-bought), sliced horizontally

8 to 10 garlic scapes, depending on size

5 to 6 tablespoons good olive oil, plus additional if desired

2/3 cup fresh goat cheese

1/3 cup shredded Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

½ cup torn basil leaves

Sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place bread rounds on baking sheet, arrange garlic scapes overlapping on focaccia, drizzle with olive oil, dot with goat cheese and scatter with shredded cheese.

Sprinkle hot pepper flakes evenly over the top and strew with basil leaves.

Bake in the preheated oven until cheese softens and garlic scapes are crispy and tinged with brown, 10 to 15 minutes. If scapes aren’t brown enough, turn oven to broil for a couple of minutes. Cut pizza in wedges, drizzle with a bit more oil if desired, sprinkle with sea salt, and serve.

GARLIC SCAPE PESTO

Toss this pesto with hot pasta, using some of the cooking water to thin the sauce, dollop on boiled potatoes or spread on chicken sandwiches. Pine nuts are the classic choice, but you can also use walnuts, almonds or sunflower seeds.

Makes about 1 cup

¾ cup coarsely chopped garlic scapes

½ cup packed parsley sprigs

1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup pine nuts

½ cup good olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a blender, food processor or mini-processor, pulse together scapes, sprigs, cheese and nuts. With motor running, drizzle in oil and process to make a slightly coarse paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This pesto will stay bright green for several days in the refrigerator or can be frozen.

Other ways to use scapes:

 Brush scapes lightly with oil and grill until blackened on edges. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a dribble of balsamic vinegar.

 Press into the tops of steaks, hamburgers or meaty fish such as swordfish and grill.

 Add chopped scapes to omelets, frittatas, and tomato and other pasta sauces.

 Finely mince and stir into fresh goat cheese or cream cheese.

 Add to flower arrangements.

 Wear on the wrist as beautiful fragrant jewelry.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” (Storey, 2012). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

facebook.com/brookedojny