Garlic Scape Butter

8 07 2011

Garlic scape butter

A couple of days ago I wrote about finding garlic scapes at a farmers’ market in Bala, Ontario. I prepared a delicious and simple pasta dish with some of them but there were still a few scapes left over. At $1 for a good sized bunch of scapes, they’re a pretty good deal!

I decided to make some garlic scape butter and used it to make garlic bread to accompany the pasta. It only takes a minute to whip up and is very versatile. In addition to broiled garlic bread, you could use the butter on corn-on-the-cob, to finish steamed or grilled vegetables, with pan sautéed fish, on baked potatoes or just serve it with plain bread.

Garlic bread made with garlic scape butter

Garlic Scape Butter

Makes about 1/3 cup

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 garlic scapes, each about 20″ to 23″ long – discard the flowering ends and cut the scapes into 1″ pieces
  • 1 oz. (28 grams) parmesan cheese, grated (will equal about 1/4 cup once grated)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice or dry white wine
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  1. In a food processor or the chopping cup of a hand blender, add all ingredients. Pulse until the butter is smooth and the ingredients are thoroughly combined, stopping to scrape the sides with a rubber spatula as nessecary.
  2. Butter will keep covered in the fridge for a few days.

To make garlic scape bread:

  1. Slice a baguette or ciabatta loaf lengthwise down the middle. Spread a generous amount of butter on each half. Heat the broiler and place the oven rack in the highest position.
  2. Place the buttered bread slices on a baking sheet and broil until browned and bubbling (watch carefully – it only takes about a minute!).

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

Ciabatta loaf with garlic scape butter


Pasta with Bacon, Peas and Garlic Scapes

6 07 2011

Garlic scapes at the Bala Farmers' Market

It’s finally July – the month when the summer markets really start to hit their stride. I’ve been lucky enough to spend a bit of time traveling over the past few weeks, including spending a wonderful few days in the beautiful Muskoka region of Ontario. One of my favourite things about driving through rural areas in the summertime is stopping at roadside markets and fruit stands. As luck would have it, the community of Bala was having a farmers’ market the day we were there so of course, I had to check it out.

In addition to strawberries, asparagus, peas, blueberries and rhubarb, I was excited to see garlic scapes at the market. Garlic scapes are the tops of the garlic plant and can sometimes be found at farmers’ markets in last spring and early summer (unfortunately, you probably won’t see them at supermarkets). They are long and curly and have a sweet, garlicky flavour. Scapes are very versatile and can be used like garlic in dishes such as stir fries, egg dishes, pastas and salads. They can be cooked or eaten raw and you can use the flowering ends as garnish.

Fresh peas are another early summer favourite of mine. They add a sweet burst of flavour to dishes or can be eaten simply cooked with a dash of salt and a bit of butter. The key to fresh peas is to cook them quickly and simply (they are also delicious raw) so don’t overcook them! When shelling peas, discard any peas that have grown large and have split – I find they can have a slightly off, ‘metallic’ flavour. Unfortunately, peas aren’t terribly efficient: I shelled 45 pods to yield just under a cup and I found a few pods with only one pea in them! However, their delicate flavour it worth the effort if you’re looking for a taste of summer. You can always use frozen baby peas to save time. Avoid canned peas – they don’t have the right sweetness or texture!

Cosmo's Smoked Meats - they make a fantastic dry smoked back bacon

A Few Helpful Tips:

  • This recipe is all about the quality of ingredients so use the best you can find. The sauce lightly coats the noodles – it’s not drowning in sauce. You can reserve a bit of the pasta cooking water before draining to add to the pasta if it looks a little dry. The entire dish comes together very quickly once you have your ingredients prepped.
  • I used a dry smoked back bacon from Cosmo’s Smoked Meats and it had a nice dry texture and smoky flavour. You can use any kind of double smoked slab bacon or smoked ham. Of course, regular strip bacon will work in a pinch but won’t have quite the same flavour or texture.
  • I also used fresh fettucine from the refrigerated case at the supermarket. For 500 grams/1.1 lbs. of fresh pasta you can substitute about 8 to 10 oz./226 to 284 grams dried pasta of any shape you prefer.

Pasta with Bacon, Peas and Garlic Scapes

Makes about 4 to 5 servings

  • 1 lb. (500 grams) fresh long pasta such as fettucine or linguine (or use 8 to 10 oz./226 to 284 grams dried pasta)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 oz. (142 grams) smoked slab bacon or smoked ham, cut into a 1/2″ dice
  • 3 garlic scapes, each about 23″ long, chopped – reserve the flowering ends as garnish
  • 3/4 cup fresh shelled peas (from about 40 to 45 pods)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 oz. (28 grams) parmesan, grated (will equal about 1/4 cup packed when grated)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat a large pot of water to cook the pasta. While the water is heating, prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the bacon or smoked ham and brown until slightly crisp around the edges, about two to three minutes (if you’re cooking raw bacon, it will take a bit longer). Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Put the pasta into the boiling water to cook according to package directions. Drain once cooked.
  4. Add the chopped garlic scapes and peas to the skillet and sauté for one minute. Pour in the chicken broth and cook for another minute. Add the butter and stir until melted and return the bacon to the pan.
  5. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss until the pasta is thoroughly coated. Stir in the grated parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a garlic scape if desired. Suggested accompaniment: Bread with Garlic Scape Butter.

Pasta with Bacon, Peas and Garlic Scapes

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

Braised Garlic Swiss Chard

29 09 2009


I love swiss chard.  It’s a popular green in late summer and fall and it makes a great accompaniment to roasted or braised meats. It’s very versatile (see the Swiss Chard Tart recipe I posted last year) but one of my favourite ways to enjoy it is simply braised in butter, garlic and a bit of stock.   It’s simple to put together and only takes a few minutes.  You don’t even have to dry the chard leaves after washing them.

Any kind of swiss chard will work – green, red or rainbow chard.  Bear in mind that when it cooks down, it reduces in volume significantly so you may have to make a double batch if serving a crowd.  This is the perfect side dish to go with Braised Short Ribs, Oven Roasted Prime Rib, grilled steak, roast chicken or pork.

Helpful Tip: Grating garlic cloves on a microplane will mince them quickly and easily without a mess.

Braised Garlic Swiss Chard

Makes 4 small servings


  • 1 bunch swiss chard (regular, red or rainbow) – equals about 12 oz. of leaves once the stems are trimmed
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely minced (see helpful tip, above)
  • 1/2 cup beef OR chicken OR vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Trim large stems from the chard.  Rinse the leaves well to ensure they are clean of all dirt and grit.  Set chard leaves aside.
  2. In a large, deep skillet, heat butter on medium until just melted.  Add garlic and cook for about 15 seconds.  Add chard to pan.
  3. Use tongs or a couple of forks to toss the chard in the butter and garlic.  Turn heat to medium-high and add stock.  Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, until leaves become limp.
  4. Uncover skillet.  Let any remaining liquid cook off on medium-high heat.  Season chard with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with your favourite dishes.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!



Braised Garlic Swiss Chard made with red chard



Kitchen Tip of the Week – Garlic 101

7 10 2008

Garlic is one of my favourite recipe additions.  I even own a couple of cookbooks dedicated to garlic, including ‘Garlic, Garlic, Garlic’ by Linda and Fred Griffith.  Garlic is very versatile:  from roasting it to bring out its sweetness to rubbing it raw on bruschetta toasts, it can be used in an endless number of dishes. There are even dessert recipes that use garlic, although they’re a bit extreme for my tastes!

Garlic is closely related to the onion family.  It is used around the world for both culinary and medicinal purposes.  China is the world’s largest producer of garlic, growing over 20 billion pounds a year, which they export worldwide.  Garlic is also grown in Canada and the United States and can often be found at farmer’s markets in the summer.  It keeps well in a cool, dry, open place but do not refrigerate or freeze it.  I keep mine in a basket in the kitchen so it’s always accessible.

Here are some garlic facts and tips you can use in your kitchen:

Garlic 101

To separate a head of garlic into cloves, peel off the papery outer layers and smash the top of the garlic head with the heel of your hand.  It should separate, allowing you to pull apart the individual cloves.


To peel the cloves, use the flat side of a large knife to lightly smash the side of the clove.  The skin will easily peel away.  The fresher the garlic is, the more the skin will stick to the cloves.


To chop garlic, peel the clove.  Using a sharp knife, cut into thin slivers and then chop up the slivers.


A microplane grater can be used if you need to mince garlic finely.  Just run a peeled clove over the microplane and put the grated garlic into your dish.


Another way to mince garlic is as follows: Put a pinch of salt on a cutting board. Place a peeled garlic clove on its side and smash hard with the side of a large chef’s knife.  Use the knife to chop it finely.


Avoid using a garlic press if possible.  A lot of people swear they change the taste of garlic.  This is debatable but they are definitely a pain to clean.  It’s much easier to use a knife or microplane.


Avoid pre-minced garlic that comes in a jar.  Compared to fresh garlic, it’s very expensive and will not have the same pungent flavour as fresh.  Likewise, don’t use garlic powder or salt – fresh is better!


If you’re following a recipe that calls for garlic powder or garlic salt, you can make the following substitutions:  1/8 teaspoon garlic powder = 1 small fresh garlic clove.  1/2 teaspoon garlic salt = 1 small fresh garlic clove.  


Garlic burns very easily which can ruin a dish.  Watch it very carefully when sauteeing.  If I’m also browning onions, celery, etc.  I will add the garlic toward the end.


It’s difficult to get garlic off your breath but chewing on a sprig of parsley can help.  There are also parsley oil capsules you can take that will help with garlic breath.  


To get garlic smells off your fingers after working with garlic, rub your fingers on something stainless steel, such as the blade of a knife.  You can buy stainless steel ‘stones’ that have been marketed specifically for this use but you can save yourself some money by using what you have on hand.


Roasting garlic mellows and sweetens its flavour.  It can be used in a number of ways, such as spreading on fresh bread, mixing with mashed potatoes and mixing with mayonnaise to make a delicious spread for sandwiches.

Roasted Garlic

  • Whole heads of garlic (as many as you need)
  • 1 Tablespoon neutral oil OR olive oil per garlic head
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Peel the outer layer off the garlic heads.  Slice the top 1/4 off each head, revealing the cloves.  Place them in an oven-proof dish and drizzle each head of garlic with oil. 
  3. Cover the dish with a lid or foil and roast for about 1 hour.  Check on after and hour and spoon any juices over the cloves.  Return to the oven and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes or until the cloves are tender. 
  4. Let cool and squeeze garlic out of the cloves and use as desired.


Bon Appetit and Enjoy!