Monday, June 22, 2009

What a garlic scape is

There are certain words in the English language that just rub me the wrong way. "Rub" is one of these words. It just makes me shudder. Apparently I don't like the sound of the short "u," because I also dislike words like "tub." Actually, now that I'm really considering it, I suppose I don't care for the long "u," either, as "tube" and "lube" are similarly unpleasant to me. So perhaps what truly bothers me is the letter "u" in combination with "b" -- "rule" and "yule" are not nearly as offensive. Yes, that's it. I have finally figured it out. Really weird, right? At least I can admit it.

You know another word I'm generally not comfortable saying? "Scapes." As in, "garlic scapes." A word like "scapes" should never be used to describe food, especially not tasty delicious food. Because it sounds much too much like "scabies" or "scrapes" or "scab" or "scapula." What a garlic scape is: a tender, mild, flavorful, gorgeous shoot -- attached to the garlic bulb -- that peeks its way out of the earth while the garlic as we know it continues to mature underground. What a garlic scape is not: an itchy skin condition, the result of an injurious fall, evidence of the healing of said injury, or a bone that connects the arm bone to the clavicle.

So. Can't we all agree to call garlic scapes something more reflective of their pleasing flavor -- something a little less of or relating to illness and injury? "Garlic shoots" would work; we have pea shoots and we all think those are sweet and lovely and cute. Maybe "garlic stems." Or "garlic tops." All preferable to the dreaded "scape."

Oh! It gets worse! Google tells me "scape" comes from the Latin for "shaft" or "stalk" -- and as such makes perfect sense to describe the shoot or stem of a plant. However, in addition to being a leafless stalk growing directly out of a root, "scape" can also describe the lowest part of an insect's antenna or the shaft of an animal part, such as antenna or feather. Yum.

You get my point. Now that I have disgusted you all with my narrative, allow me to proceed with a delicious recipe.

The crop from my favorite garlic farm -- a 10-acre operation just up the road from my house called the Thaxton Family Farm -- is, naturally, not ready yet. But what do I have to satisfy my local garlic needs as I wait for the Thaxtons' nuanced and flavorful garlic to be harvested? You guessed it: scapes. This past Saturday at the farmers' market the Thaxtons were set up with a table full of scapes, recipes for how to use scapes, and samples of said recipes. I stood in the early morning rain eyeing the pretty green shoots and tasting, among other things, a white bean and garlic scape spread. It was so good. Even if it was only 9:15 a.m. and I still had the flavor of pancakes and real maple syrup on my tongue.

I took a bag of 20 scapes home with me from the market and used some of them to make turkey burgers for our Father's Day cookout. While we grilled a steak for Dad -- a special day requires a special cut of beef for the man of honor -- the rest of us (non-red-meat) eaters enjoyed the turkey burgers. The scapes were a perfect and subtle addition, imbuing the meat with a mild garlic flavor and flecks of fresh green. The little surprise of goat cheese tucked inside the burger was a creamy, tangy foil to the burger's garlic and onion overtones.

Though the scapes are quite fragrant when chopped, their cooked flavor is not nearly as strong. For such a harsh and unforgiving name, they certainly are measured and pleasing in flavor. And as long as they are in season, I will continue to devise uses for them.

And nicknames.



20 oz. ground turkey
3 T. garlic scapes, minced (about 3 scapes)
About 1/4 of a large onion, diced
2 T. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Pinch kosher salt
1 large egg
1 c. panko
1 oz. goat cheese
1 oz. butter (I use Plugra salted butter)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, garlic scapes, onion, parsley, salt, egg and panko. Using your hands, mix thoroughly to combine.

Cut the goat cheese and butter into 4 equal pieces.

Working with a quarter of the turkey mixture, form it into a patty. Using your thumb, make a well in the center of the patty. Place one piece of goat cheese and one piece of butter into the well. Working around the circumference of the patty, fold up the edges of the patty to cover the cheese and butter. Set aside. Form the remaining 3 patties the same way. You can chill the patties for a few hours, or move them straight to the grill.

(Wrapped and ready to take to the Father's Day cookout.)

(Sister grips a plate in anticipation, while Dad steadies his sangria atop the grill.)

Grill for 12-15 minutes, until the center of the burger registers 161 degrees Fahrenheit. You can, of course, cook them indoors on a grill pan or in a bit of oil in a skillet. I served mine on a ciabatta roll with a bit of mayonnaise, though I think they'd be great with a few arugula leaves and a slice of tomato, too.

Makes 4 burgers.


Anonymous said...

I got a real laugh out of the comparison between "scapes" and "scabies." Two of my most unfavorite words. I think I might be ruined every time I read about those now, but they are just so delicious I will have deal. (Great recipe, too!)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Last year I learned how to grow garlic scapes. I had planted some garlic cloves the year before, and completely forgot about them. Truly, I assumed that grubs or something would have gotten to them. Imagine my surprise when, last Spring, I had garlic scapes in my garden! Who knew that, through neglect, I would end up growing something I actually wanted to have?

Laura said...

Hey I recently put garlic scapes in turkey burgers. They were fabulous (but really ugly and I was feeling lazy so they never made it to the blog). Clearly great minds think alike!

Dianne said...

Great minds indeed! I also thought they were rather ugly and didn't photograph well, but they were so tasty I couldn't help it.

Amanda said...

I'm about to throw together some turkey burgers, and I just happened upon this post. I had never even heard of a garlic scape before... but I think I will now add some garlic to my burgers. :)

Dianne said...

Amanda, I hope you enjoyed your garlic turkey burgers! Sounds great to me....