One of the best things about farmers’ markets is the variety of produce you can find compared to traditional grocery stores. Going to a market is always my favorite way to experience a new city or place. I love spotting heirloom varieties of already favorite vegetables, and I’m always intrigued when I find something I’ve never eaten or cooked with before. So last weekend when I happened upon unfamiliar, green curly cues at almost every stand at a market here in Nashville, I knew I had to do some experimenting.
These guys are called garlic scapes; they are the flower stalks that grow out of the ground while the garlic bulbs are maturing in the ground. Removing the scapes from the bulbs increases bulb production. Garlic scapes are usually only in season in June and in areas where garlic is grown regularly.
The best way I can describe this is like heartier, snappier version of green onions with a distinctly garlic flavor that’s not overpowering but still packs some latent heat. After doing a little taste test, my mind immediately went to crostini. Garlic, cheese, and bread is never a bad combination.
Intrigued? Seek out some garlic scapes at your local farmers’ market and whip up this crostini yourself.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- ½ loaf sourdough bread, sliced
- 2 bunches garlic scapes, roughly chopped
- 4 oz ricotta cheese
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1-2 oz fresh mint, roughly chopped
Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees and slicing the sourdough bread. I bought the sourdough bread used for this recipe from the same farmstand where I found the garlic scapes, Sugar Camp Farm at the Richland Park Farmer’s Market here in Nashville. They sell bread from Village Bakery and Provisions, and it is divine.
Once the oven is preheated, bake the bread for 10 minutes to crisp it flipping the slices half way through. While the bread cooks, you can start preparing the garlic scapes other toppings.
Having never cooked with garlic scapes before, it was important for me to try the scapes a couple of different ways. I was torn as to whether or not to sauté them first or to keep them raw, and I was also curious as to which herbs would work best with the scapes.
After a few different combinations, I found my favorite to be very quickly sautéed garlic scapes with fresh mint. Cooking the scapes removes the spicy bite but still keeps the fresh garlic flavor intact, and mint was the best foil to the savory scapes and ricotta.
To cook the garlic scapes, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium sauté pan. Add the garlic scapes and season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium to medium high heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute. The quick cooking mellows the flavor just enough while still keep the stalks bright and crunchy.
Remove garlic scapes from the pan and into a small bowl to stop the cooking. Chop the mint, halve a lemon, make sure the ricotta, and salt are at the ready.
When the bread is crispy on the edges but soft and warm in the middle, remove the slices from the oven. Place on a serving tray to prepare the crostini. Start by slathering each piece of bread with some ricotta cheese. Drizzle olive oil and squeeze a little lemon juice on each slice. Finish with a sprinkling of salt.
Next pile on the sautéed garlic scapes onto each slice of bread. Generously top with mint. You could play around with other herbs here. I found the sweetness of the mint paired nicely with the ricotta to offset the savory flavor of the garlic scapes and bite of the sourdough bread.
You can serve this warm or at room temperature. It’s a perfect summer appetizer, or you could pair it with a salad for an easy weekday dinner.
Have you cooked with garlic scapes before? If you have a preferred method, let me know!
Garlic Scape and Ricotta Crostini
- 1/2 loaf sourdough bread
- 2 bunches garlic scapes roughly chopped
- 4 oz ricotta cheese
- 1/2 lemon
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1-2 oz fresh mint chopped
Preheat oven to 400 and slice sourdough bread
Bake bread for 10 minutes, flipping slices half way through until bread is crispy on the outside by soft and warm in the middle
While the bread bakes, roughly chop the garlic scapes and set aside. Chop the mint and make sure the lemon, ricotta, and salt are easily within reach
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium saute pan over. Add garlic scapes, season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium to medium high heat for just under 1 minute.
Remove the bread from the oven and spread ricotta cheese on each slice
Add a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice over the ricotta on each slice of bread. Sprinkle with a little salt
Pile the garlic scapes on each slice of bread and top generously with fresh mint