Ingredient: Garlic Scapes

What: Naming this vegetable appears to be done on a farm-by-farm basis; I found the first harvest of the garlic plant sold as “scapes,” “pigtails,” and “curls” at the Takoma Park farmers market alone. The green buds are the plant’s first attempt to propagate: “It’s when garlic gets serious about reproducing,” says Shawna DeWitt of Mountain View Farms. Scapes are cut off to force the plant to put its energy into developing the more familiar garlic bulb.

How to buy: If you’re garlic-shy, ask for elephant garlic scapes—they have a larger bud and a milder flavor. A bunch goes for $2–3; you’ll find them at markets for the next month.

How to store: Scapes will last in the refrigerator for several weeks. Keep them in a Ziplock bag to prevent them from seasoning everything else.

How to cook: Over Memorial Day, I found myself hosting a party with potato chips, but no dip. After mixing one container of sour cream, three finely minced scapes, and a healthy dash of salt-alternative seasoning (I went with Spike), and we were in business. Once on the table, it was gone in 10 minutes.

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Photo by Phoebe Connelly