Garlic scapes are a great ingredient for stir-fried dishes, as well as for some pestos and soups. You can even grill them up like asparagus for an intensely garlicky side dish. You may have trouble finding them in the typical produce section since they are not a particularly popular vegetable, though you may find them in some Asian grocery stores. If you can’t find garlic scapes or need some in a hurry and don’t have time to go to the store, consider one of the following garlic scape substitutes.
Your best bet: Green garlic
Garlic scapes the garlic plant’s stalks. They grow late in the season and are the stalks that the garlic bulb puts out as a means of blooming and reproduction. Garlic scapes have a bud on top that will open up if the scapes are not harvested in time. The scapes are removed to enable the bulbs to grow large. Green garlic refers to the shoots that the garlic plant puts out before the bulb is mature. The green garlic shoots are narrower and more tender when compared to garlic scapes.
Green garlic does provide the same garlic flavor that you would get from garlic scapes; however, the taste is milder and has more of a herbal note. The mildness may make it a better option if you have a problem with the pungency of scapes. If you do want the stronger flavor, you can use more of it to get an intensity similar to that of the scapes.
You can use green garlic in any of the dishes that require garlic scapes. It makes great pestos and soups.
A decent second choice: Garlic chives
Garlic chives are just what you might expect from the name: chives that taste like garlic. Typical chives have a mild, herbaceous onion flavor; garlic chives are similar but replace the onion with garlic flavor. All are members of the Allium genus. The greener upper parts of chive stalks have a subtler garlic note while the lower, paler parts offer a sharper flavor and aroma.
Overall, the taste of garlic chives is milder than that of the scapes but you can use more of it to compensate. The appearance of garlic chives is similar enough to garlic scapes that you can use them in the same applications without the substitution being too obvious.
In a pinch: Garlic cloves
Garlic scapes are just another way to get the garlic flavor. There is no better way to get that flavor than from the source itself: the garlic clove. Garlic cloves come from the garlic bulbs on which scapes grow. They have many of the same nutrients and health benefits.
One of the most important advantages that you will when using the cloves in place of the scapes is that cloves are easy to find, unlike the scapes. If you do not frequent Asian stores and do not grow them yourself, you may never come across them at all. The drawback of garlic cloves is that they look nothing garlic scapes, which means that you cannot use them for pesto or for any dish that needs the bright green asparagus-like stalks of garlic scapes.
Scallions are a suitable alternative in many dishes. Note that you will not get the strong garlic flavor that scapes give to a dish, but you will get an equally strong onion flavor. The onion flavor should work in most of the recipes that require garlic scapes.