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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

All In The (Allium) Family

Two members of the allium family, chives and garlic scapes, are on the menu today - a simple buttermilk dressing with chives and wild herbs and garlic salt.

cole slaw with buttermilk dressing

Photo: Alycin Bektech (for WFIU)

This buttermilk dressing pairs the butteriness of buttermilk with a touch of bitterness from wild herbs.

Chives and garlic scapes are on the menu today. First, we experiment with three different types of chives in a buttermilk salad dressing. And then, we’re already looking ahead to the cold months by preserving the subtle taste of garlic scapes in an easy recipe for garlic salt.

All In The Family

Onions, scallions, leeks, garlic, chives – all members of the allium family – along with some 850 other species!

A tip when foraging for members of the allium family: use your nose! Any plant that smells like onions is edible, and not toxic to humans. Rodents and deer, on the other hand, don’t like plants in the allium family. So, you can plant onions or garlic in your garden as a form of natural pest control.

Spring Buttermilk Dressing

makes 1 quart vinaigrette


  • 2 poached (or boiled) eggs
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1/4 cup domestic chives (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup wild chives (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup garlic chives (chopped)
  • 3 cups loosely packed herbs (fennel and chervil)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon brunoise (lemon zest finely diced)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup olive oil


  • Blend the eggs, mustard, herbs, chives, lemon brunoise, garlic, salt, sugar, and buttermilk.
  • Add oil and lemon juice and blend again until smooth.

Cooking With Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are the stems of the garlic plant, the thing that would turn into a flower if left alone. Breaking off the scapes allows the garlic plant to strengthen its bulb, so you’re helping out the plant in the process. You can cook them like scallions (in stir fries, in pestos, etc.).

Garlic scapes do not have the same heat as regular garlic cloves or a mature garlic plant would have. So, you can use those chopped up in stir fries and eat the whole thing and not worry about over-cooking them.

Here’s another way to use garlic scapes. This recipe is so simple that you won’t even have to write it down.

Garlic Scapes Into Garlic Salt

garlic salt in a food processor

Photo: Rashad Mammadov/WFIU

If you're looking for a simple way to preserve garlic scapes, make a batch of garlic salt to use all winter long!

Roughly chop 10-12 garlic scapes. Add the garlic scapes, along with 2 pounds of kosher salt, to the food processor. Then, run the processor until you no longer see chunks of garlic. Spread the garlic salt on a cookie sheet, and then bake it in a 250-degree oven.

“You don’t want to put it on too high of heat or you’ll lose that great green color,” Chef Orr warned.

Once the salt has dried out in the oven, pulse it in a food processor once more. Put the salt in jars and enjoy it as seasoning for your food throughout the winter.

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Earth Eats Staff

Earth Eats Staff is a weekly podcast, public radio program and blog bringing you the freshest news and recipes inspired by local food and sustainable agriculture.

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