Daylilies and garlic scapes are surefire signs that summer’s well underway, and together, they make a dish straight out of a fairytale. The tangerine blossoms are just magnificent, and I always find them catching my eye as I’m walking through the neighborhood. They close into a tight bud at night, and then at first morning light, gape open to show off their red and yellow streaked petals.
It was in my first garden in Ithaca that my friend Emmita showed me they were edible. Our 93-year old landlord had planted a thick row of daylilies alongside the house. Immediately across from them, I had planted an equally dense row of garlic bulbs, hoping the soil conditions would favor them. I was ecstatic when the garlic leaves finally plowed through the soil, eventually twirling into garlic scapes akin to my wild summer curls.
While I was busy harvesting the scapes, Emmita was across from me, nibbling on petals. I balked. I love eating flowers, but serving flowers as beautiful as daylilies seemed like a dream for a chef! What’s more, the young buds have a soft, chive-like flavor that pair beautifully with garlic scapes, especially when both are tempered in sizzling butter. This dish is a simple, gorgeous, side for any entree.
Important note: Before foraging for and eating anything you are unfamiliar with, find an expert to verify your harvest is edible. There are excellent resources, such as books and online articles, to help verify as well, though I always prefer to ask an expert. For daylilies (not to be mistaken with Tiger Lilies), see Eat The Weeds’ article “Daylily Dilemma.” For wild foraging ethics, check in with Robin Wall Kimmerer’s The Honorable Harvest.
- 1 tablespoon butter (substitute with ghee or olive oil)
- 2 cups one-inch pieces garlic scapes
- 1 cup daylily buds
- Handful of open daylily blossoms
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- In a large pan or cast iron skillet, melt the butter on medium-high.
- When the butter begins to foam (just before it browns), add the scapes and sauté until they brown and become slightly crispy.
- Add the buds and sauté for about 2 minutes until they brown and slightly wilt.
- Add the open blossoms last, toss gently for about 30 seconds and remove the pan from the heat.
- Serve warm.
- Store leftovers in a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Consider adding them to a frittata with goat cheese.
To process garlic scapes, remove the tip just below the bulge connected to the straighter section of the scape. Cut the scapes into one-inch pieces.