Friday, July 6, 2012

Garlic Scape Pesto

A couple weeks ago I got garlic scapes in my CSA box. Not having cooked with garlic scapes before led me on a search for 1) what they are 2) recipes (of course). Apparently garlic scapes are just the green curly tops of a growing bulb of garlic. They have a fresh, mellow garlic flavor and hands down the most popular recipe made with garlic scapes is a pesto. Perfect! I love pesto!

I didn't have too many scapes on hand, so I essentially halved the recipe as my starting point and added more of whatever I needed as I went. My guiding recipe was from Dorie Greenspan in which I subbed pine nuts instead of the almonds in the recipe. Despite the garlic scape's supposed "mellow" flavor, my pesto was quite pungent and required a little more oil, cheese, and nuts than the recipe called for. Pesto is one of those things you need to taste as you go and tweak to your liking. I ended up tossing in a couple basil leaves too, since I had them growing in the garden.

Ultimately this is a delicious way to use garlic scapes. It made about 1/2 of a cup and was delicious made into a pesto pasta, and would be equally yummy as a dip for veggies, topping on crackers, or stirred into a pot of italian tortellini soup (which is what I plan to do with it in a couple days).

Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan, halved below

  • About 5-7 garlic scapes with the "bulbous" part cut off, discarded and remaining stems rough chopped
  • 1/8 - 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 cup of pinenuts
  • 2 basil leaves
  • About 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Squeeze of lemon juice (optional. If added will preserve green color and punch up the freshness)


  1. In food processor combine garlic scapes, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and basil leaves. Pulse to chop up ingredients. With olive oil ready, turn food processor on and add olive oil and process until combined and smooth. Stop processor, taste and season with salt, lemon juice and any other ingredients you feel need increased...this is where you taste as you go, adding more as needed. 
  2. The pesto can be pretty pungent, but will mellow after a day or so in the fridge. Store in the fridge for a couple days tightly covered, or for a couple months in the freezer. 

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