It’s Time to Grill Garlic Scapes

Ricotta Gnocchi with Garlic Scapes, Mushrooms and Fennel

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

In season now, fresh garlic scapes caught my eye at Metropolitan Market and I grabbed a bunch.

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

I followed the cooking tip posted in-store, brushed them with olive oil and tossed them on the grill to accompany chicken kebabs. Easy and quick – scapes brighten, soften and char in a couple of minutes on a hot grill, turned once or twice with tongs.  Removed to a platter, I added a pinch of grey sea salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

New to scapes? They’re shoots that grow out of hardneck garlic bulbs, which have a hard stem at the core. Scapes are cut in the spring and early summer, so they don’t pull nutrients from the bulbs as they mature in the ground until harvest. (5)

Softneck garlic is the variety sold most often in grocery stores. Softneck bulbs don’t grow scapes but they do offer more pungent cloves to smash, sliver, chop and eat.

Scapes taste more mild and vegetal than garlic cloves – like a green onion crossed with a green bean. That’s no surprise. Garlic is in the allium family, related to leeks, onions, shallots and chives. I can’t think of a cuisine in the world that doesn’t use alliums – although the amounts vary.

There is a rich history of culinary and medicinal uses for garlic and onions. Each type of allium provides a unique combination nutrients and phytochemicals and research has revealed cardiovascular, anti-cancer and other protective health benefits.  The Egyptians used garlic and the Chinese were using it as early as 3000 BC. Hippocrates prescribed garlic for a variety of conditions.  (1,2,3,4)

Scapes are used like onions and vegetables in dressings, dips, pesto, frittatas, omelets and more. Try my saute of scapes with mushrooms and fennel that I served with ricotta gnocchi, light-as-a-cloud Italian dumplings.  (5,6)

For my next garlic scape adventure I’ll make a pesto. While you consider how you’ll cook them, keep them fresh and beautiful in a vase or glass with water. 

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Ricotta Gnocchi with Garlic Scapes, Mushrooms and Fennel

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Ricotta gnocchi are light, delicate Italian dumplings. They’re wonderful nestled in this vegie sauté.

Serves 2-3 as an entree, 3-4 as a side dish

Ricotta Gnocchi:

1 heaping cup (9 ounces) fresh, whole milk ricotta cheese

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons lightly beaten egg or egg whites (toss the rest in your scrambled eggs or omelet)

¼ teaspoon kosher salt, more to season cooking water

Garlic Scapes, Mushrooms and Fennel Sauté:

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil, more for drizzling on top

10 to 12 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 small bulb fennel, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

1 small sweet onion, sliced (about 1 cup)

4 ounces garlic scapes, ends trims and cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces (about 1 cup)

¼ to ½ cup white wine or water, as needed

1 teaspoon lemon zest

3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. To make Gnocchi, line a plate with 2 layers of paper towels. Spread ricotta cheese on paper towels and let drain for 15 to 20 minutes.  Scrape ricotta into bowl of food processor. Add flour, cheese, egg and salt. Process briefly, until smooth. Scrape dough into a bowl, cover and chill for 30 minutes, while preparing the vegetable sauté, or until ready to cook gnocchi.
  2. To cook Gnocchi, fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add salt and reduce heat so that water simmers gently. Cook the gnocchi in two or three batches. Spoon rounded tablespoons of gnocchi dough into the simmering water.  Simmer gently for 5 minutes or until gnocchi expand, float and are cooked through. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon to an oiled plate. Repeat with remaining dough.
  3. To make Sauté, Heat butter and olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium to medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms, fennel and onion. Cook, stirring often for 4 to 5 minutes. Add scapes and continue cooking until mushrooms are soft, another 4 to 5 minutes, adding water or wine if mixture is dry.  Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. To Serve, spoon cooked gnocchi onto vegetables, sprinkle with lemon zest and herbs.  Drizzle with olive oil.


  1. Garlic: Proven benefits. By Christian Nordqvist and Reviewed by Natalie Butler, RD, LD   Medical News Today. August 18, 2017.
  2. 4 Reasons Eating Garlic is Good for Cancer Prevention  AICR
  3. The Health Benefits of Garlic By Julia Calderone April 19, 2018 
  4. Health benefits and risks of onions. Megan Ware, RDN, LD, updated December 19,m 2017. Medical News Today.
  5. The Crisper Whisperer: 7 Things to Do with Garlic Scapes Recipe. Carolyn Cope. Updated June 19, 2019.
  6. What Are Garlic Scapes? Cook’s Illustrated. Accessed June 21, 2019.

© Lorelle Del Matto 2019

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.


  1. Cheryl Eiger says

    Thank you for this Lorelle . This looks so delicious and healthy, can’t wait to make!
    I never knew about scapes and avoided them at the grocery store ,thinking too complex but you demystified them… hurray .
    Thanks again Cheryl

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