A delicious (and quick!) way to make your garlic scapes

Just as I was about to buy my first garlic head at the grocery, garlic scapes are ready to harvest – hallelujah! Hardneck garlic plants all over Missoula are sending up what we call garlic scapes — a curling stem ending in a bud. Here’s a pile of them after our harvest:
freshly trimmed garlic scapes

I was out with the Community Garden team on Thursday, and we harvested scapes. Garlic scapes siphon needed energy from the garlic bulb, and put it into the blossom. So, we cut the buds and their associated stems, right above the first leaf and took them home for dinner. Here’s Patrick and Emy, my co-workers, at the Providence Garden — just after we finished harvesting scapes. They’ve moved on to thinning carrots. It’s a great way to start the day: gardening with good people.

Community Gardens Staff thinning carrots

What to do with scapes? You can really use them anywhere. You can straight up grill them, you can add them to a stir fry or your mashed potatoes. They make a mean pesto (many of my favorite cooks say scapes make the best pesto, but you are using it raw, so it is gonna be strong, and make you and your breath smell like garlic). This pesto recipe includes a seasonal green, too: chard! You can also store them and pickle them.

Scapes have a mildly garlicky, slightly sweet flavor. When cooked, their texture resembles asparagus. I wanted to have a little fun with both scapes AND asparagus, since they are both in season, and chose Sesame Ginger Scapes and Asparagus, from Montana Public Radio‘s site, written by T. Susan Chang for this week’s recipe. It’s easy, quick, and delicious. You could fry an egg, shovel it on top with a little spritz of Tamari and call it a meal, especially if you are eating alone. Otherwise, it makes a lovely side. It’s actually good cold, too.

Here’s how I prepared it:

I got out all the ingredients. It’s a stir fry, thus everything happens SO FAST.


I chopped the asparagus and scapes into 2 inch pieces. Grated the ginger. (Side note: I keep a few fingers of ginger in my freezer and it has changed my life. Or at least, made cooking many Asian dishes at the last minute possible because I can keep fresh ginger on hand.)

Chopped veggies

I didn’t have soy sauce or tamari on hand, so I used coconut aminos instead. I didn’t have any mirin (a sweet rice wine often used in Asian cooking) either, so as per these guidelines I used Marsala wine instead. I added about a quarter teaspoon of fish sauce to bring the salty back , and balance out the sweet Marsala and coconut aminos.

Coconut oil seemed the best choice of vegetable oils since this is such a high heat operation. I think you could use unrefined, but I used refined because I didn’t want to change the flavors too much.

Heated the oil hot! in my wok. Because my cast iron skillet was crusted in egg from breakfast.

wok and oil

Added the scapes for 2 minutes, till they got a little darker.

cooking scapes

Added the asparagus and ginger (stir like crazy so the ginger doesn’t stick to the side of the pan right off the bat — try to get the flavor distributed before the inevitable sticking happens), for another minute or so (you can cook it a bit more after you add the sauce if needed).

scapes and asparagus

I did my best to push the veggies to the side as Chang suggests, and added the sauce mixture. It took about 4-5 minutes to reduce it to a syrup — it will vary depending on what you are using for sauce.

After it looked a bit like syrup, I removed it from the heat, and tossed all the contents together with the toasted sesame oil. As a finishing touch, I toasted the sesame seeds because I wanted to boost their flavor (and, they’ve been in my cupboard a long time).

finished product

I also broke the buds open and sprinkled their contents on the top of the finished dish. This is a great addition to a salad or something that needs a little garlicy kick.

garlic sprinkles

Recipe (adapted from T. Susan Chang’s)

4 servings 


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons refined coconut oil
  • 1 dozen garlic scapes chopped into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 small bunch of thin asparagus, chopped into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 1-inch ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon coconut amino sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sweet Marsala wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • About 1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds to finish the dish

See above for preparation instructions, or check out the original.

Happy scaping! See you next Sunday on the Real Dirt.