Saturday, June 22, 2013


A tangle of garlic scapes.
Before the garlic come the scapes. Coiled, tangled and twisted, scapes are the flowering stems of garlic plants. I am growing the esteemed ajo morado, purple garlic, a hardneck variety.

We planted out cloves of garlic last December. Green garlic shoots, ajetes, appeared in April. I pulled up a few, thinning the patch, and used them in revuelto, eggs scrambled with green garlic shoots, mushrooms and shrimp (recipe).

A field of green garlic.

Ajetes are green garlic shoots with baby bulbs forming.

Now the garlic plants are sending up palotes, scapes. We cut them back, encouraging the bulbs to grow larger.

These pungently-flavored stems, if cut when young and tender, can be used raw, like scallions. The tougher ones can be chopped and sauteed, punching up the flavor of stir-fries, soups, sauces.

To see the final chapter in the garlic escapade, when the new garlic bulbs are harvested, see )

Here’s a recipe from La Mancha (the garlic-growing capital of Spain) for potatoes mashed with garlic scapes. Look for scapes at farmers’ markets. They are, fleetingly, in season right now. If not available, substitute scallions plus additional cloves of chopped garlic.

Chopped green garlic scapes flavor mashed potatoes.

Palotes con Patatas
Potatoes Mashed with Garlic Scapes

Serves 6.

2 pounds baking potatoes, such as russets
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped scapes, green garlic shoots, or scallions
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon sweet pimentón
Red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Peel the potatoes, cut them into pieces and cook them in boiling, salted water until very tender. Drain the potatoes, saving 1 cup of the liquid.

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and gently sauté the chopped garlic shoots and garlic for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pimentón and red pepper flakes.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the drained potatoes. Chop and mash them in the oil until almost pureed. Stir in ½ cup of the reserved potato water, the salt and pepper. Keep stirring and mashing the potatoes, adding up to ½ cup additional liquid to make a mixture the consistency of mashed potatoes. It’s ok if potatoes have a few lumps.

Great side dish--garlicky mashed potatoes.


  1. Janet, I contacted you a couple of weeks ago about growing "judiones" here in the US. I wanted to let you know that I recieved the beans in the mail and planted them. This morning, in the garden, I saw that all three hills around my teepee trellis have germinated! Just wanted to let you know...I'll keep you updated. I'm taking photos of the process as well.

    1. Nick: ¡Enhorabuena! Hope your judiones produce some great meals.