Just as nose-to-tail dining has many of us eating more parts of an animal than the tenderloin or the chops, we are eating lesser known parts of vegetables, too, from chard stems to radish and carrot tops. Also, garlic scapes, at nearly every stand at the Portland Farmers’ Market earlier this week. It wasn’t so long ago, farmers there said, that they would toss the scapes into the compost pile; they’re the flower stalk of the plant, which growers snip off to encourage bigger bulbs. Now scapes sell at the Portland market for $2 for a reasonably sized bunch.

The farmers encouraged me to try them. No need. As it happens, my vegetable bin overfloweth, and I’ve been using them promiscuously of late. After all, just a few weeks a year, and then they’re gone. Scapes taste – no surprise – like a garlic clove but with the snap of a good green bean. Add them to a stir-fry, turn them into pesto, puree them into a dip with cannellini beans or chickpeas, stir them into scrambled eggs or mashed potatoes, or blanch them and eat them as a vegetable in their own right, with butter and lemon. If they are young and tender, use the scapes raw. If not, sauté or blanch them first. Have you run out of culinary inspiration but not scapes? Stick them in a vase, where their kooky curlicues can look shockingly minimalist and modern.


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