Garlic Scape Pesto ~ The Garden of Eating - a sinfully good blog about food

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Garlic Scape Pesto

Have you ever seen a field of garlic scapes blowing in the breeze? It's an awesome sight. I could barely believe they were real the first time I saw them growing -- the crazily curling shoots seemed like some wonderfully whimsical cosmic joke.

Pasta with garlic scape pesto by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

For those of you who are not yet familiar with this charming-looking treat, the garlic scape is the flower shoot of the hard-necked garlic plant (there are two basic varieties of garlic - hard-necked and soft-necked but the soft-necked kind does not produce scapes).

A tangled nest of garlic scapes by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

As it shoots up, it begins to loop around and form these wonderful curlicues before the flower at the end opens. They can also double as avant-garde jewelry -- Medusa would've loved these babies...

Garlic scapes as bracelet by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

If you're growing hard-necked garlic (it's so easy to grow your own garlic - you should try it!), you want to cut the scapes off before the flowers open as that will preserve more energy for the plant to make the bulb (a.k.a. the head of garlic you'll harvest in a month or two) bigger.

Garlic scapes, pine nuts and parmesan by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

But don't throw them away once you've snipped them 'cause garlic scapes are also good to eat. They have a nice flavor that is garlicky (shocker, huh?) but mellower than mature garlic. You can stir-fry them, steam them and eat with butter, pickle them (post coming soon!), sautee them and MAKE PESTO OUT OF THEM!

Container of garlic scape pesto for tonight's dinner by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

We had a rather large bunch of these after our first CSA pick up of the year because I had lost my head at the Kingston Farmers Market over the weekend before the pick up and bought a big bunch of them (not realizing they'd be included in our share.) This seemed like the perfect time to make pesto since we had enough scapes to freeze some, too.

Freezer beaba tray of garlic scape pesto by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

Although you can make pesto with just the scapes, I chose to add a lot of herbs as I like the added flavor and also tend to find the scapes by themselves rather intensely garlicky.

Basil plant by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

As with any pesto, amounts and ingredients are delightfully flexible (I always feel a little silly posting a "recipe" for something as basic as pesto...) I had recently made chimichurri (another magical green sauce...) so I used some of the leftover mint, basil, parsley, and oregano I had on hand. And of course lots of pinenuts (almonds or walnuts would be good, too), Parmesan cheese, olive oil and salt.

Garlic scape pesto by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

The resulting pesto is herby with a decidedly allium-induced kick to it! Toss with pasta or roasted veggies, drizzle over grilled chicken, smear on some crusty bread and eat with fresh mozzarella or goat cheese, and more. Don't be shy!
Pasta with garlic scape pesto by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

Garlic Scape Pesto
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients (these are all approximate!)

* 1/2-1 cup fresh, washed basil leaves
* 1/2-1 cup fresh, washed parsley leaves (you can also add or sub in oregano, cilantro, mint, etc.)
* 1-2 cups garlic scapes, both ends removed (you want to cut the flower end off as well as the lower part of the stem since it will have gotten rather hard since picking), and chopped into lengths
* 2-3 Tbsps pine nuts (or toasted almonds or walnuts)
* 2 tsps salt (or more to taste)
* Freshly ground black pepper to taste
* At least 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated


1. Put the scapes, herbs, pine nuts, salt, pepper and cheese in the bowl of a food processor.

2. Process, adding the oil a bit at a time, until desired consistency. Taste and adjust the salt and cheese accordingly.

3. Use right away or store in an airtight container in the fridge - it should keep for about two weeks. You can also freeze any extra pesto in an ice cube tray and then transfer to a freezer bag for much longer-term storage.

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the actor's diet said...

what a gorgeous, delicious blog you have! yay, wesleyan!

Eve Fox said...

Thanks, Lynn. I love your blog, too! Go Wes!

Karen @ My Pantry Shelf said...

This looks delicious! I always enjoy eating the garlic scapes, but never thought of pesto. Thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

How about taste testing various varieties of scapes!!! Garlic scapes grow from hardneck garlics that vary in intensity from mild to very hot. Its fun to try different varieties and "play" with which ones you prefer to pickle, ferment or make into pesto,etc. They can actually be enjoyed fresh for approx 4 months out of the year by ordering online as they are harvested first on the West coast, then mid western states and finally, the East coast.