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Red Lentils and Garlic Scapes

Classic Indian spices, turmeric, cumin and coriander, flavor this dish of red lentils and garlic scapes, with the scapes adding garlicky crunch, olive green color and the scent of spring.

Garlic Scapes

trimmed and ready for chopping

Today I came across a package of Garlic Scapes in the produce section at Whole Foods. They were on sale: 2 for $6.00. Someone is laughing all the way to the bank and I bet it s not the farmer.

Garlic Scapes packaged

expensive scapes

Lucky for my kitchen, curlicued garlic scapes show up in our weekly Ranui Gardens CSA box this time of year. They’re mellower than mature garlic cloves, and certainly different than their aromatic offspring.

Cook scapes like you would most any vegetable. Think grill, sauté or salad. To prepare scapes, trim and remove the seedpods from the tops if your farmer left them on. Break or cut away the tougher bottom part, just as you might for asparagus.

Do you know why we, in English, call those small pulse beans lentils? They are shaped like a lens, the lens of your eye or a contact lens—lens and lentils come from a Latin root word. Lentils come in lots of colors, red, yellow, green, black and brown. Red lentils are not truly red, but more orange in hue, and when cooked, they turn yellow, even more so when seasoned with turmeric.

You can cook lentils a short time to leave some texture and shape, or you can cook them to a mush–simmer them until they are barely tender, 8 to 10 minutes, or cook them longer, 25 to 35 minutes, to make the thick soup. If you cook the lentils until they are soft, you’ve made dal, a staple food in India and many countries on India’s border. I like my red lentils cooked just enough to have some texture left. But if I end up with dal, whoops, no worries, this dish is wonderful and satisfying just the same.

Red Lentils and Garlic Scapes

The curry powder we buy in bottles could be called proprietary, some with more cumin, some with less coriander, depending on the producer’s recipe. I like my curry with pizzazz so I’ve augmented the store-bought curry mix with other curry-friendly spices from my spice drawer. Bring on more cumin, mustard, coriander and ginger.

You might also like this recipe for Garlic Scape and Bitter Greens Pesto. And this recipe for Bowtie Pasta with Grilled Scapes and Sun-dried Tomatoes.

Wishing you a fabulous weekend–get in the kitchen and cook something delicious!

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Red Lentils and Garlic Scapes
A great recipe to introduce garlic scapes. Serve with rice or whole wheat tortillas.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon black (or brown or yellow) mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • ½ teaspoon Real Salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup chopped garlic scapes (1/4-inch pieces)
Instructions
  1. Rinse and pick over the lentils, discarding anything foreign. In a saucepan, bring to a boil in the water. Cook about 8 minutes. The peas should still be firm, barely tender. Drain and rinse them with cold water. Set aside.
  2. Measure the cumin and mustard seeds, the curry powder, coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger, garlic, salt and cayenne into a small bowl.
  3. In a skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium flame. Add the scapes and sauté until the scapes are tender but crunchy, about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the spices and cook, stirring constantly, until you hear the mustard seeds pop, about 30 seconds. Stir in the cooked lentils and cook until they are heated through. Season to taste with salt, if needed.

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