GROW FOOD slow food Have your garden and eat it too. A practical guide to organic gardening in the sub-tropics with step-by-step instructions and delicious seasonal recipes. Come with me too on some of my travels in Australia, Europe, Asia and beyond.

WHAT ARE GARLIC SCAPES? The flower stem and blossom of the garlic plant.

I love the fact that, no matter how old I am, I am always learning something new. Until last week I had never heard the word scape – amazing to me considering I have been a horticulturist for almost 40 years and, over those years, have taught all sorts of topics around the subject – including botany. I don’t know about you, but this kind of thing gives me a little thrill. So here we go – what I have discovered about GARLIC SCAPES.

WHAT DOES SCAPE MEAN? A flowering stem that grows directly from a bulb or ground level rosette of leaves. Daffodils, agapanthus and tulips are scapes. From the Greek skapos – meaning ‘rod’.

WHY ARE THE FLOWERING STEMS OF GARLIC CUT OFF? To direct the energy of the plant down into the developing garlic bulb.The garlic scape characteristically have a twisted snake-like stem and also, when cut and in a vase, will follow the sunlight around the room.

TOP TIP: Don’t throw away those tiny bits of garlic from the middle of the bulb too fiddly to peel – PLANT THEM – and then pick them when they look like spring onions. This is called GREEN GARLIC. They have a soft, fresh garlic flavour and nicer than garlic chives – in my humble opinion. Handy to throw in just about anything.

WHAT: Garlic, Allium sativum, is in a large and important food family – the ALLIUMS – that also contains every conceivable type of onion:, chives and leeks. They are also being bred these days as an ornamental bedding plant for their stunning pom-pom flowers that come in all shades of blue, pink, white and purple.

HOW TO COOK GARLIC SCAPES?:

  • Add chopped to a stir fry to give a crunchy, mild, garlic flavour. Very good with beef and chilli.
  • Where you would use asparagus or French beans in a dish.
  • Chargrilled, then served dipped in aioli.
  • Chopped into soups and stews
  • Fold chopped and sauteed into a frittata or omelette.
  • Added to fried rice.
  • Oven baked with other roast vegetables
  • Finely chopped and mixed with a stick of butter to melt over the top of grilled fish.

ROAST PUMPKIN, HALOUMI, GARLIC SCAPE AND ROCKET SALAD

  • 1 kilo dense, rich pumpkin, cut into chunks and roasted in the oven on a lightly greased tray until cooked and turning golden. I find pieces about 3 cm thick to be a good size. You can leave the skin on. Turn over half way through cooking to get colour on both sides. Cooking time depends on the type of pumpkin. About 180oC for 25 minutes should do it.
  • 8 garlic scapes, cut into 3cm pieces and sauteed in a frying pan in a little olive oil for 2 minutes.
  • Half a cup of pepitas roasted on a tray in the oven for about 3-5 minutes.
  • 250 g haloumi, sliced and cooked until lightly golden in the frying pan after the garlic scapes – you may need to add a little more oil.. Do this just as the pumpkin is cooked.
  • 150 g fresh rocket leaves
  • A few glugs of good olive oil
  • A drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar.
  • When everything is cooked and ready serve, arrange in a shallow dish, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the oil and balsamic.

ONE MINUTE I WAS YOUNG, HIP AND OUT THERE
AND THE NEXT MINUTE I’M TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS
OF VEGETABLES.

(how true!)