Wilted Lettuce Cimmaron with Garlic Scape

Garlic scape

Many of my blog followers will remember my writing about harvesting and using garlic green (4/9/12 and 4/20/12 posts), now I am harvesting and using garlic scape.

What is garlic scape, you may ask? It is the “flower stem” or “flower stalk” (they do not produce “real” flowers) of the garlic plant where the seed head (bulbil) of the garlic bulb is formed (I do not have a photo, just imagine a tiny, tiny head of garlic on a stalk, very cute). If allowed to mature the seed head will burst open to reveal the tiniest of “garlic cloves”.

To Harvest: Harvest while still young and tender. I wait until the scapes begin to curl, you can harvest earlier or later, keep in mind they become more fibrous the longer they grow.  I run my fingers down the stem and bend. The stem will snap off where it is tender.

Some gardeners believe the garlic bulbs will store better and longer if the scapes are not removed, also the scape will let you know when the garlic is ready for harvest (as the garlic bulb underground matures, the scape uncurl and becomes straight and tall to support the bulbil, garlic is ready for harvest at this point). Not removing the scape, however, will result in smaller garlic bulbs (the scape will divert the plants energy away from the underground bulb). I plan to make the observation this year with one of the garlic variety I am growing.

To Use: Garlic scape has a mild garlic flavor I use the whole tender stem and the bud but cut away and discard the pointy section. Combine it with other vegetables in a stir-fry, add to soup (like you would scallion), thinly sliced and add to salad and salad dressing (like you would shallots), add to egg dishes, make pesto, their uses are endless.

I frequently allow some of the scapes to continue to grow and form cute tiny heads of garlic called bulbils. Harvest the bulbils while they are still tightly formed and add to a stew. This is a one time, once a year special treat.

Lettuce Cimmaron

Lettuce cimmaron, an heirloom variety, is a Romaine type lettuce that is tender and sweet, great to make Caesar salad with. I needed the space so harvested 7 heads. Removed and cooked the more matured outer leaves (like spinach cooks down to very little). Peeled and sliced the stems and used in cooking (like celtuce), it is delicious in salad too. Only the heart of each head was used in a salad.

Wilted Lettuce Cimmaron with Garlic Scape

½ – 1 pound lettuce cimmaron, washed and cut into bite-sized sections (I peeled and used the stems also) (Romaine lettuce is very good too)
4 – 6 garlic scapes, cut into about ½ inch lengths
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 – 2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1. Add oil to preheated wok or frying pan. Add garlic scape and stif-fry until scapes turn a bright green color, 1 – 2 minutes.
2. Add salt and lettuce, stir-fry until lettuce is just wilted (do not overcook). Stir in sesame oil and seeds. Serve hot or at room temperature.

NOTE: This is a very basic and simple treatment of my freshly harvested lettuce (garden to wok within an hour). If desired, add the following alone or in combination: oyster sauce, chili sauce, lemon juice, grated fresh ginger, crumbled crisp bacon, dried cranberries, …

With all freshly harvested veggies, especially the leafy ones, I like to do very simple preparation to bring out the fresh sweet, delicate flavor.

Not a pretty dish but a tasty one, really tasty, I kept eating and eating and consumed a bit too much roughage, you know what I mean.

Copyright © by Norma Chang

Robin, The Gardener of Eden, is the host for Thursdays Kitchen Cupboard. Head on over to Thursday’s Kitchen Cupboard to see what others are cooking.

About Norma Chang

I am the author/publisher of 2 user-friendly Chinese cookbooks: "My Students' Favorite Chinese Recipes (updated edition)" and "Wokking Your Way to Low Fat Cooking" A gardener who enjoys cooking and eating and loves to think outside the box A garden volunteer at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden Conduct hands-on cooking workshops for teenagers Conduct cultural programs for children and family Conduct healthy cooking classes for adults
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47 Responses to Wilted Lettuce Cimmaron with Garlic Scape

  1. Sometimes not so pretty dishes taste the best. I really enjoy garlic scapes.

  2. Daphne says:

    It sounds delicious. My last use of scapes was to put on a pizza. They are good in just about anything.

  3. Using your own fresh produce for cooking cannot be beat my friend 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  4. Liz says:

    That dish sounds wonderful. I am growing hardneck varieties for the first time this year so I will be very interested in your thoughts on bulb size with and without scapes.

  5. Robin says:

    Sounds wonderful Norma! Scapes are a definite treat and can be used in so many dishes. I made scape jelly last year and it’s absolutely wonderful.

  6. Lovely post! I adore garlic scapes. It was one of the first thing I posted on my blog. I used to grow garlic once upon a time, millions years ago. Nothing tastes as good as fresh produce that has hopped from your garden to the wok.

  7. I thought the salad was pretty. The sesame seeds made it look wonderful. Wilted lettuce is a great way to serve lettuce that is a bit past its prime. Wilting it takes out the bitterness. I like hot bacon dressing to wilt my lettuce, but this way looks very good too.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Lou,
      I should have mentioned in my post that wilting takes out the bitterness in lettuce that has past its prime, thanks for the reminder. Actually wilting gives it a sweet taste also.

  8. ChgoJohn says:

    Anything that goes from garden to dinner plate within an hour is going to be good, as you’ve proven here. And, usually, the more simple the preparation, the better. This was a great post, Norma. Perfect for the season. 🙂

  9. Hotly Spiced says:

    Wow Norma, you have taught me about two vegetables I have never heard of. The heirloom lettuce looks incredible and I love garlic and would love to try these scapes. I imagine they must taste a bit like garlic chives? Or maybe they are garlic chives and that is the name we give them in Australia. I’ll have to look that up. xx

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Hotly Spiced,
      Garlic scapes have a pleasant mild garlic taste. Garlic chives, also known as Chinese chives (in the U.S.) is different from garlic scapes, maybe it is knon by different name in Australia.

  10. I feel healthier just looking at your picture! Enjoyed learning about garlic scape. I bought some at the farmers market last summer, but never did end up using it. Thanks for the ideas!

  11. I love the scapes almost as much as I love the bulbs! I have friends who are garlic growers, and we were given bags and bags of them last year. I froze a lot of them, but also made them into garlic scape pesto, which was just divine. Next time I get some, I’ll have to try your recipe! 🙂

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Celia,
      How fortunate to have friends to give bags and bags of garlic scapes. Hope you get a lot more this year. in mnany dishes calling for onion I would substitute garlic scapes for part of the onion.

  12. prahaida says:

    Re: Roses are wonderful, I can’t wait to have a garden so I can plant more than just one!:)

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Prahaida,
      I hope you get your garden soon. I had a number of rose bushes but had to give away all except one because the deer were eating them. The only remaining one is a long stem which is tall and the deer cannot reach.

  13. mac says:

    Delicious dish, garlic scape is so versatile, it combines well with any veggie or meat.

  14. Eva Taylor says:

    I harvested my garlic scapes last year and they were wonderful. I had them in salads and stir fries! I have a question, if I harvest the scape, how do I know when the garlic bulb is ready for picking?
    That’s a lovely and light summer salad, I love the colours.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Eva,
      I read the leaves. The leaves start to turn brown from the bottom. When there are only 4 or 5 green leaves at the top, I dig up the plant. It is OK to harvest earlier, you just will not get a fully matured bulb and it will not store as well.

      • Eva Taylor says:

        I planted some last fall and because the weather was so mild, they started to grow and then froze. So I had to plan new garlic this spring (april-ish), do you think I’ll be able to harvest? I sure hope so. I also planted green onions, do you know when I can harvest them?

      • Norma Chang says:

        Hello Eva,
        I don’t know, perhaps.
        When you say green onions do you mean scallion? If yes, you can harvest anytime. If you just cut the green part the plant will regrow more green, if you pull up the whole plant then that’s it. Do you have more than one plant growing, if yes, pull some and leave some, depending on the variety, what is left behind may multiply. When you buy scallion/green onion from the food market, if you use only the green and part of the white, if there are roots on the remaining white part, plant that section and it will grow.

  15. Sissi says:

    It looks delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever had this lettuce. Thank you for the garlic scape explanation.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Sissi,
      It is an heirloom variety that is making a come back. You will find it at farmers’ market but not yet at the grocery stores. If you buy mesclum mix chances are it is in the mix.

  16. sybaritica says:

    Well, I have heard of Garlic scape but never seen it in a local store. Lettuce Cimmaron is absolutely new to me…. Guess it may be a while before I get to try this delicious looking recipe 😦

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Sybaritica,
      You will find garlic scapes at the farmers’ market but not at the grocery stores, the same goes for the lettuce cimmaron. It is easy to grow and seeds are readily available through seed catalogs.

  17. I haven’t had a garlic scapes for a very long time. This photos are so appetizing, makes me want some right at this moment.

  18. Hi Norma,

    Love the sound of this quick stir-fry. I just have one scape so waiting to see if any more emerge so I can get cooking!!

  19. Sophie33 says:

    Thank you for explaing garlic scapes for me! How interesting! Your dish sings to me!
    MMMMMMMM,..;I think a garlic scape pesto would be equally tasty! Do you have a recipe for it on your lovely blog?? A really lovely & fragrant dish! 🙂

  20. leduesorelle says:

    Great tip on using the lettuce stem!

  21. Charles says:

    I disagree – it looks plenty pretty to me! I’ve never heard of cimmaron lettuce – it sounds delicious! Oh, lol, while I think of it – haha, I remember someone in my office telling me that garlic scapes were poisonous one day. It’s funny the misconceptions people grow up with.

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