Garlic Scapes – Part 1- Sauteed

A tangle of garlic scapes
A tangle of garlic scapes

If you like garlic the way I like garlic, then you will love garlic scapes.  I have friends who will hoover down tzatziki at lunch or opt for the roasted garlic hummus.  Not me.  I won’t go near it.  Eat it once, taste it all week.  But garlic scapes may change all that.

They’re slim and come in a tangle of vivid green and they’re only available for a short time.  By mid July, they’ll be gone.  Garlic scapes are the flowering part of the garlic plant that most people just threw out.  Turns out, they’re great in pesto, in hummus, roasted on their own and sautéed.

I mean really, who doesn’t want to buy garlic scapes or pretty much anything else from this happy farmer’s market stand at the Leslieville Farmers’ Market at Jonathan Ashbridge Park on Sundays?

Happy farmer!
Happy farmer!
Beautiful garlic scapes
Beautiful garlic scapes

However, I would not advise eating them until they are properly cooked.  They look as though you should just pop them in your mouth like a crisp green bean.  Don’t do it.  I did and I have never had my sinuses cleared so quickly or tears brought to my eyes so fast.  In addition to that lovely image, you’ll taste garlic for days.  D-A-Y-S.  Well, at least two days anyway.

My first attempt at garlic scapes was to simply saute them on the stove in some olive oil.  Then I added some chunky salt.  The parts of the scapes that softened and browned combined with the still green bits of crispness made for a lovely mild garlic flavour.

When I sauteed them, I left them in a tangle which looks beautiful in the pan and beautiful on the plate.  However, it’s all rather unwieldy to eat unless you just pick them up with your fingers and eat them like you would french fries.  You could cut them up into bite-size pieces.  Up to you.  I like them looking like a nest.

Splash the oil in
Splash the oil in
Scapes in the pan
Scapes in the pan

Here’s your RTI:


Try to dry the garlic scapes off after washing.  Once you add them to the hot oil, there will be a lot of splashing and mini combustions when the water and oil meet.  The dryer the scapes, the fewer hot oil explosions.

Also, I tried cooking them in melted butter thinking they’d taste better than in olive oil.  But my vote is olive oil.  Much tastier.


  • A saute pan
  • Tongs


  • Bunch of garlic scapes
  • Olive oil (be generous with it, just splash some in the pan)
  • Salt (to taste)

Yield:  Well, what you see is what you get.

The “How”:

  • Wash the scapes and dry them as best you can.
  • Chop them up into pieces to make them easier to eat if you like.  I like to leave them whole.  Much prettier and more fun to eat.
  • Heat the oil in the pan.
  • Place the scapes in the pan.  Let them cook, moving them around now and then until they soften and parts are browned. I covered mine for a bit with a glass lid.  Cook them until you like the crispness. If you want them to brown more, do that.  Biting into one should give you a sense of if the garlic taste has mellowed out a bit.
  • Take them off the heat, pile them into a dish and sprinkle with salt to taste.
Adding salt
Adding salt
Brown spots are so tasty
Brown spots are so tasty

Up next:  Garlic Scapes – Part 2.  The roasted edition.


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