Garlic scape gremolata is the perfect garnish to brighten up your favorite spring recipes

Now that spring has finally sprung, it’s officially garlic scapes season! What are garlic scapes, you ask? They are arguably the best part of a garlic plant. But more specifically, they are the long and vibrant green curlicues that grow from a bulb of garlic.

To an untrained eye, the stalks may be mistaken for chives (which are smaller and thinner) or scallions (which are thicker and more bulbous at the bottom). They may also be confused with green garlic, which are the small bulbs and stems of garlic plants that haven’t fully matured. Garlic scapes are both the tender stalk and flower bud of a hardneck garlic plant. When harvested, the scapes look like slender green tendrils. If they’re left to grow, the scapes will sprout a cluster of tiny blooms at their tips.

Garlic scapes are a popular sight at many local farmers markets and supermarkets in the late spring and early summer. In the same vein as garlic cloves, scapes can be sautéed in a medley of veggies, roasted with your favorite meats or blended to make an assortment of sauces. Of course, they can also be enjoyed raw — namely in homemade gremolata.

The classic Italian condiment is typically made of chopped parsley, lemon zest, and garlic. But it can also be made using the seasonal garlic scapes, per Seth Kinder, executive chef at the Barn8 Restaurant + Bourbon Bar in Goshen, Kentucky. At the restaurant, the scapes are all locally sourced from its own gardens, including the 683-acre Hermitage Farm, where Barn8 is located, and its sister property Woodland Farm.    

Gremolata is traditionally used to garnish Ossobuco alla Milanese — veal shanks braised with vegetables, white wine, and broth — grilled fish or other choices of protein. But Kinder prefers to use it in a mushroom risotto.   

“We sear off local Frondosa Farm mushrooms until caramelized, then turn off the heat and mix in the gremolata,” said Kinder. “This way it sweats from the residual heat to tease out the fragrance and flavor of the gremolata and lift the flavor of the mushrooms.” 

He adds that gremolata is too good to use in just a select few dishes. That’s why he sprinkles the garnish on anything and everything, from pasta agile e olio (spaghetti with garlic and olive oil) to grilled vegetables. 

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To prepare Kinder’s garlic scape gremolata, simply slice six to eight handfuls of fresh scapes into discs, making sure to cut out the flower buds (they are edible though, so be sure to store them!). Then chop one bunch of fresh parsley — Kinder recommends separating the leaves and stems of the parsley and chopping them separately, then tossing them back together. This allows for a finer mince on the stems to reduce woodiness and preserves more of the parsley. Zest two lemons — “This is double what most recipes call for, I like it zesty though,” explained Kinder — and mix all the ingredients together. Gremolata lasts only a couple days, so be sure to enjoy it as soon as possible.

When it comes to following the recipe to a T, Kinder said to not overthink the process or shy away from adding your favorite herbs and additions: 

“You chop up and zest a couple things and people think you’re a wicked cook out of nowhere,” he said. “Add extra herbs or substitute others depending on how you feel or what’s in your fridge and or garden.”

Garlic scape gremolata


1 ¼  cups

Prep Time

5 minutes

Cook Time

0 minutes


  • Handful of scapes —6-8 depending on size
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 2 lemons, zested


  1. Prepare the scapes by cutting out the bulge and discarding — this part is edible, if you wish, though. Thinly slice the scapes into discs by holding the scape perpendicular to your knife.

  2. Carefully stir all ingredients together.

  3. This mix will only last a couple days — they make it fresh at the restaurant each day. After chopping the herbs down, they quickly wilt into nothing. 

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