Garlic Scape Pesto

June 8, 2012

YOU HAVEN’T LIVED until you’ve tried Garlic Scape Pesto. This spreadable, dip-able, spoon-able stuff is light, tangy, and fresh. But let me warn you…it is also highly addictive.

Garlic scapes, if you have hitherto not made their acquaintance, are the curly, green shoots that emerge in summer from autumn-planted, “hard-neck” garlic bulbs. Growers usually remove these shoots in order to encourage further development of the bulb below. The scapes have a distinct garlic flavor that is potent, but without the stinging bite of a raw clove. You can find them at farmer’s markets, but better hurry — scapes are available only from June through mid-July.

It’s a cinch to make pesto from garlic scapes. First, cut off and discard the knobby seed-pod from each scape…

Then cut the scapes into 1/2-inch pieces. Okay, I cut mine a little larger than that. But you get the idea.

Rinse the scapes in cold water, and then drain them in a colander.

Place chopped greens and a half-cup of slivered almonds into the bowl of your food processor.  Process for 30 seconds or so, or until a fairly smooth texture is achieved. Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.

With the machine running, slowly add three-quarters cup of extra virgin olive oil. Process for about 15 seconds.

Then add one quarter- cup grated Parmesan cheese, a pinch of salt,  a few grinds of black pepper, and process for another 5 seconds or so. Taste carefully — you might want to add more salt and/or pepper.

And that’s it — you’re done!

If you think garlic scape pesto  tastes good on a cracker, just try it on a plate of pasta. It is a condiment par excellence.

This pesto will taste even better if you let it chill in the fridge for several hours (or overnight). Before chilling, place the sauce in a glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. If you wish to freeze the pesto for future use, seal it in an air-tight tub or zip-lock bag.

Need a copy-and-paste version of the above recipe?  Here goes:

Garlic Scape Pesto
Ingredients for about two cups:

9-10 garlic scapes, knobby seed-pods removed and discarded
1/2 cup (2.5 oz bag) slivered almonds
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Special Equipment – A food processor; a rubber spatula

Preparing the scapes - Rinse scapes in cold water, then roughly chop into half-inch pieces.

Processing — Pour scapes and slivered almonds into the bowl of your food processor. Blend for 30 seconds, or until a fairly smooth texture is achieved. Scrape down sides of bowl with your rubber spatula.

With the machine running, slowly add olive oil, and process until thoroughly incorporated, about 15 seconds. Then add the Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, and blend for another 5 seconds. Taste carefully — you might like to add more salt and pepper.

Although this pesto is good freshly made, it is even better when refrigerated for several hours or overnight. Before chilling, place the pesto in a glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.

Garlic scapes are available only from June through mid-July. Consequently you might want to buy lots of them, as I do, and make several batches of pesto. These you can freeze in air-tight containers for up three months.

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Related Posts:
My Garlic Sowing-and-Growing Guide
Paula Wolfert’s Hummus
Whole Wheat Pita Bread

Comments

  1. Eric says:

    Kevin, looks good! Do you think walnuts could be substituted for almonds?

  2. Eric – I have no doubt this recipe would be wonderful with walnuts. Unfortunately, I'm slightly allergic to them!

  3. Phoebe says:

    I love recipes like this which can only be made once a year. Thanks for posting it.

  4. Andrew Thompson says:

    Yum.

  5. Katreader says:

    I'll have to try this recipe-hopefully I can still get some scapes.

  6. Katreader – I'll wager your local farm store or food co-op will have garlic scapes. It's not too late in the season for them…

  7. Justin says:

    Double Yum.

  8. Gregory says:

    Kevin, my partner and I made this last night. The conclusion?

    We intended to have it on pasta, but the pesto didn't last long enough for the water to boil. We ate the whole bowl's worth with spoons. What remained in the bowl we scraped out with our fingers. 'Nuff said.

  9. Gregory – I can relate! The stuff is like a drug.

  10. Katreader says:

    Whoo hoo-I just made a few batches and I have more to go (I didn't realize just how BIG the basket of scapes I got from the market was). I'm surprised how spicy it is-I like it! I think I'll make gnocchi tomorrow!

  11. Katreader – Gnocchi with garlic scape pesto? I'm coming for dinner!

  12. Alan says:

    Kevin, thanks for the reprint. I was lucky enough to have tried it at that cocktail party you hosted last summer. SO DELICIOUS!!!!!!!

  13. Adele says:

    I'm off to buy garlic scapes and slivered almonds. Now!

  14. Alan – you're welcome!

    Adele – Great – let me know how it turns out. I hope you won't lick the bowl, as I did, when it's all gone.

  15. Hi! So glad to find you. I was doing gardening searches and came upon your blog. I will be back! Happy holiday weekend to you and yours.

  16. Welcome, annielizabeth. A happy holiday to you, too!

  17. These also make a fine marinade for chicken. Just whirl 5 or so of them them in a food processor, add a bunch of cilantro or parsley, a splash of orange juice, a semi-hot pepper and voila!
    Love this post.
    Thanks, Kevin.

  18. Marion Roach Smith – Yum! I will try this marinade at once.

  19. Mmmm! We got a food processor for a wedding gift. My mister is on cloud nine over it. I just stumbled him this recipe. I've been getting scapes for weeks now from my Italian lady at the farmers' market.

  20. BBI – I congratulated you on your nuptials elsewhere, but let me seconded them here!

    Try this recipe and let me know how it turns out for you. As you can probably tell, I'm addicted to the stuff (and so is reader Kathleen, a/k/a “Katreader”).

  21. Cary Bradley says:

    Harvested our first scapes a couple days ago and made your pesto just now, for breakfast :) ! Kevin, that is delicious. My scapes are so pungent, they are at least as strong as garlic cloves. I think next time, I’m going to try using the scape as the garlic standin (much less volume) and maybe use basil, cilantro, parsley, to stretch the precious scapes. Soooo grateful to you for the recipe. Plan to try some grilled this weekend for dinner. Have you tried them that way? Happy Weekend!!!

  22. Cary – Wow – you must have some mighty potent scapes! So glad you liked the recipe. And Incidentally, I made more garlic scape pesto today, and hence the new photos above.

  23. Brenda Johnson says:

    This sounds delicious!! How have I missed this brilliant idea????? Thanks for the “food” for thought!

  24. Joan says:

    My 2 favorite June foods are our farmer’s market Michigan strawberries and garlic scapes.

    Not together.

  25. Joelle says:

    Okay, I think you just answered my question – which I hadn’t even started searching for an answer yet! I have these three curly things with white head bulb things on them, and couldn’t for the life of me figure out what they were or where they came from. I’m pretty sure this is it! Too bad there are only three = ( But I still don’t know for the life of me where they came from!!

  26. Amanda Wiersma says:

    I have these on my walking onions… I may have to try this out with those!! Sounds yummy!

  27. Kate says:

    As always, thanks for your great recipes, Kevin!

  28. Pam Pulice says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I love your newsletter! May I ask what kind of cracker that is? It looks divine with the pesto.

  29. Leslie says:

    OMG, I so look forward to this time of the year–a friend of mine who plants a lot of garlic has been giving me his scapes for years now so I can make up a bunch of pesto and freeze it—it doesn’t last too long, though—my kids LOVE it! I have made it without nuts, or with walnuts or sunflower seeds or slivered almonds—each way has been delicious! I made up fresh loaves of French bread so any of us can just slice a piece and smear it with the pesto for a snack–or put a slice of cheddar cheese on top OR my son tried putting some cream cheese on his bread and then the pesto over it—WOW was that good, too! I have a huge garden and I love taking a fresh tomato, slicing it up and putting in a slice of French bread that has been slathered with the pesto. If it lasts that lone. I have about 30 more scapes left, I’ve been planning, today, to make more up and freeze it–wish me luck! I think this fall I’m going to try planting my own garlic so I can have TWICE the scapes next year ;-) @ Marion—I’m going to try your marinade, too—that sounds fabulous, Thanks!

  30. Kate says:

    This sounds wonderful, Kevin! Can’t wait to get some scapes and try it. Now fess up, what are those cute little crackers shown in the photo? They look homemade……

    And thanks for all the wonderful ideas and ‘eye candy’ in your blog.

    K

  31. Valerie C. says:

    I’m jumping on the band wagon too :) This looks amazing! Thanks for another great recipe. I’m in Boston this month….I’m off to find out where these are sold here.

  32. Andreas says:

    We don’t get garlic scapes in our market – guess this is a good reason to plant some garlic this autumn!!

  33. Oriane says:

    Bonjour Kevin,

    What a great recipe, I’ve never used garlic scapes and this sounds so delicieux. From baked potatoes to filet mignon, I can see myself now, spreading the pesto on everything.
    Love the serving ideas shared by your readers, that’s what so special about your site, the sharing.
    And about those crackers…….don’t keep us guessing, they look so good.

    Merci comme toujours.

  34. despina says:

    I actually would have never thought to make this with garlic scapes. I love pesto.

    thanks for a great idea in a twist of a classic.

  35. despina says:

    thanks for a brilliant twist on a classic.

    I love garlic scapes and they are easy to freeze.

  36. Hi there Kevin,

    It was so nice to meet you today on the Garden Conservancy Tour at your house. I found each of the different gardening sites today, had their own special something. Each garden was like an art object made by an artist, in their own special style. Be the garden big or small, they all offered inspiration to the viewers. Happy Summer, and keep inspiring your readers, and visitors to your garden.

    Fred Gonsowski your first, FIVE minute early visitor ;-}

  37. Cary Bradley says:

    Made me smile to read your reader’s posts asking for cracker origin. I posted your scape pesto article to FB and my dear cousin also loved the look of the cracker. Just adding my voice to others here who has asked. Thanks, Kevin! (of course, if it turns out to be something you grabbed when you ran out of gas in front of Wall-Mart and had to eat something, so went in… permission granted to keep it to yourself.. your secret is safe ;) ! Mahalo!

  38. Regarding the crackers: I’d love to tell you they are homemade! But alas, they are Mary’s “Original” wheat-free, gluten-free crackers, composed from brown rice, flax, quinoa and sesame. Truly crispy, and they don’t fall apart (like so many other gluten-free items I’ve tried) when you swipe them with Garlic Scape Pesto!

  39. Wolfgang says:

    Kevin,

    Why cut off the seed head? I used a few in a different recipe and chopped everything including the seed head and it was great!

  40. Wolfgang – Great question! The entire stem is edible. But in my experience, the tip above the seed pod has a woody texture, and the seed pod itself offers little flavor. Consequently I remove both pod and tip when making pesto.

  41. Donna B. says:

    … or freeze in an ice cube tray for the perfect serving size to toss w/ pasta. Mmmmm.

    I need to start growing the hard neck variety. I always grow the soft ones, and albiet they’re good, I think the hard neck kind is best for the north anyway! And I don’t get scapes!!! [a classic korean bangchan incorporates garlic chives and garlic scapes... mmmm...]

    And those crackers look delicious. ♥

  42. Franipeni says:

    Hi Kevin
    I’m a horticulturalist/permaculturalist, in Melbourne, Australia, and have never come across garlic scapes. The curliest things I’ve seen that come close are the walking onions as someone mentioned earlier.
    Do you think I could use garlic chives as an alternative or just the stems of garlic bulbs growing in the garden?
    Btw, it’s only the beginning of winter here, so we’re a way off from harvesting our garlic bulbs.
    Thanks, Fran :)

  43. Anne Efron says:

    Growing garlic for the first time and didn’t even know about scapes, so glad to know I should cut them off AND find a recipe for them. Trying the pesto on past tonight, can’t wait. my little taste found it quite pungent, too, not sure I could eat it just on a cracker. They were quite hard – do you think I waited too long to harvest? They look like your pictures.

    Love your newsletter, thanks so much,
    Anne

  44. julie says:

    Wondering how much of the scape stem can be used. Toward the bottom they are very tough to cut.

  45. Deirdre says:

    Just as I could no longer escape the scapes, I came across your easy recipe. Thank you for that. I adjusted a little based on what I had in the kitchen, using walnuts and hemp seeds instead of almonds, and skipping the cheese to make a vegan pesto. I also added some basil leaves. I guess I am a pesto traditionalist in that way. Anyway, thank you. It is absolutely delicious, and I am glad to have a purposeful destination for all those scopes.

  46. Wow! This is amazing and as my late mom would have said..good for whatever ails you!

  47. I am on about my 10th batch of this amazing pesto! Thanks so much. We cut our scopes this morning….they are so fresh…over 200 of them…wish you lived closer…I’d share :)

  48. scapes scapes scapes…I hate auto correct!!!!

  49. Antoniette says:

    oh how lovely, what a gorgeous color green! And just imagine, I cut my scapes today! Now I have something wonderful to make with them :)

  50. Rachel says:

    I finally made this last night and it was intense! Even my 5 year old liked it! I’m thinking of thinning it out with oil and using as a salad dressing. Yummy!

  51. Rachel — You have a very wise 5-yr-old! I can tell you the sauce — thinned out with extra olive oil — is almost too-delicious for words when poured on lettuce greens or pasta.

  52. Glennis Bowser says:

    Will have to try this. Last night for dinner we had linguine, tossed with sauted shrimp & fresh garlic scapes (from my garden), and a mustard greens pesto made with walnuts. I made the pesto last year and froze it. Almost finished using it up, Mustard greens will soon be large enough to start this year’s batch. Also thought I’d try some with red mustard .

  53. Jingles says:

    We stopped at our favorite road-side stand yesterday and was delighted to find garlic scapes. When I picked up 2 bunches of them a fellow shopped asked “what on earth are you going to do with tose things?” After giving her a description of your recipe, she bought 4 bunches. I think I’ll print out a copy of your recipe and post it above the bin where these beauties are languishing. Betcha there’s a run on them afterwards.
    Oh momma is this delicious stuff!! Great on pasta, but it realy is special on baked potato. warning thi IS addictive!

  54. Jacke says:

    I like to try scapes grown from a variety of hardneck garlic types. Scapes only grow out of hardneck garlics, and these garlics vary in intensity from mild to very hot. (they have really weird names like Siberian, a mild one, to Metechi the hottest one avail) I eat the mild ones raw in salads and can the hotter ones to give away as gifts. I order online from various farmers as they ripen across the country. They ripen first in california, then Washington, Mid-West and finally the East Coast.

  55. Sharon Curley says:

    I have never heard of these. I would like to try to make it though.

  56. Deloris says:

    I have no idea of how my garlic came across the yard (surely not squirrels or a critter – maybe an Italian critter LOL) but I have them growing all over my flower beds (I’m leaving them) and I’m making garlic scape pesto … yes I am, You ARE an enabler (thank you). LOL

  57. Trudi Dido says:

    hohoho I have ONE garlic scape in my garden from last year! i think I will try it just to see how one will taste. It’s asking a lot of one little scape I know!

  58. booklogged says:

    Kevin, this sounds wonderful. I may have to plant garlic this fall so I can try this pesto next spring. I live in a small town and we don’t have a farmer’s market. I know, it’s a sad thing. Also, I need to know what kind of crackers you showed in this post. They look quite divine, too.

  59. Ava lansbery says:

    I don’t have farmers markets where I live, will definitely plant garlic this fall. I do have wild garlic that is a weed….in the spring. After much cussing getting it out of the flower beds ( I must dig with a shovel to get the bulb out) I think I will try making pesto….lemons to lemon aide!!!

  60. Jerry Pinto says:

    Hi Kevin –
    Thanks so much for your article on the Lily Leaf Beetle.
    I noticed the beetle last year and did my best to squish them. They returned this year with a vengeance, I couldn’t keep up with them. I sprayed with Neem Oil and that got things under control. I garden in Averill Park NY in Rensselaer county.

    Jerry

  61. Pat says:

    Oh my, oh my, oh my. I died and went to heaven and now I am back. Addicted to Garlic Scape pesto? Yes.
    I planted 13 cloves of Garlic last fall for the first time. Crossing my fingers was the best I could do at the time. I had been spoiled with the most amazing garlic grown just miles from my house. I don’t even know what “fragrance” they are but they were big and plump and scrumptious.
    Anyways, to make a long story even longer I was delighted to try this recipe. We were out of almonds so I toasted half a cup of walnuts and went to town.
    This is the most incredible pesto I have ever experienced. So far I have scooped it up with raw snap peas, dragged a box of GF crackers through it and it sat adorning a piece of wonderful extra-old Canadian Cheddar. Can you imagine it?
    Fantastic! I just read that the Chive pesto has hit the stands and I am front and center to try this one.
    Thanks so very much for this fun, informative site. You are a gem.
    Hugs from the Canuck.
    Happy 4th of July!
    Pat

  62. badger gardener says:

    Made this over the weekend and my husband’s only complaint is that we have no more garlic scapes. Next year I’m going to scour the farmers’ markets for more and make plenty of bathces.

  63. Lester says:

    After I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments
    are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get
    four emails with the exact same comment. There has to
    be a means you are able to remove me from that service?
    Cheers!

  64. Donna says:

    I also use the Scapes in stir-frys.. But I also use the heads. Steamed they have the bite of asparagus and a mild garlic flavor.. I’l have to try the Pesto next summer.

  65. oral says:

    Hi there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok.
    I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward
    to new posts.

  66. Tina says:

    Will I thriftily try to use the tube above the knobby seed, or discard it as well? I have never so much as seen a scape before, but that is about to change: my friend has 20,000 hard-neck garlics which I’m going to help him trim.

  67. dressup says:

    Greetings from Colorado! I’m bored at work so I decided to browse your blog on my iphone during lunch break.
    I enjoy the info you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m shocked at how quick your blog loaded on my cell phone ..

    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, great blog!

  68. Lynne says:

    Yum, I make pesto with mint and lemon grass – positively divine on fish! Will the flower stalks from elephant garlic work?

  69. elizabeth says:

    DELISH!

  70. Jeri Erman says:

    HA – I literally just sat down after making this!!! I am so thankful to have found this recipe a few years ago. We love it!!

  71. Barbara says:

    We picked about 3 pounds of Chesnook Red scapes on Friday, last night made a similar pesto that called for pistachio nuts. Very yummy. I will try your recipe with almonds. Thanks for sharing.

  72. Maureen says:

    can’t wait to try this recipe again.!!

  73. Judy Sides says:

    Oh Lord have mercy! Thank you so much for this one. What a wonderful idea! I cut a few scapes out of my garden yesterday and made this with walnuts, because I had them already. Yes sir. We woofed that down in minutes. Absolutely delicious! I’m going to cut the rest today and freeze as much as I can. I will have to hide it in the freezer. I think that I will play with a few different cheeses. Oh yeah, I am going to be a real rock star at the next covered dish gathering! Now what outfit will go with this?

  74. Stacia Sauerwein says:

    i love that you repost this every june – i made this a couple of years ago after seeing your recipe, and now i wait eagerly for the garlic scales at the farmers market so i can rush home and make some of this :)

  75. Nancee says:

    Hello! I realize this is sort of off-topic however I needed
    to ask. Does building a well-established blog like yours require a lot of work?
    I am brand new to blogging however I do write in my diary every day.

    I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my own experience and feelings online.
    Please let me know if you have any recommendations or tips for brand new aspiring blog owners.
    Appreciate it!

  76. Cheryl says:

    I made this last year and my scapes are starting to appear. Can you freeze these little scapes?
    I will have lots and will be making more pesto. YUM!

  77. Nanci says:

    Yum, I can’t wait to try these. Going to look for Garlic scrapes at my local Farmer’s Market this weekend! Many thanks!

  78. Joann says:

    YUM!!!

  79. Hey there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out
    and say I genuinely enjoy reading through your posts.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go
    over the same subjects? Thanks a lot!

  80. neska says:

    found garlic scapes for the first time today, found your recipe on my first search!!! i don’t have everything i need for it but i have everything for hummus so i’m gonna try a scape hummus!!! but i posted this to my own wall for later :) thank you!

  81. Good info. Lucky me I ran across your blog by accident (stumbleupon).
    I have bookmarked it for later!

  82. Jane says:

    Kevin, made this today. It is marvellous and I am sure is only going to taste better tomorrow. I used the seed bulbs to make a lovely floral arrangement as well. Wish I could post a pic for you! Thanks.

  83. Linda says:

    Read your post last week, and garlic scapes were part of my CSA a few days later! Just made it (finally broke down and purchased a food processor, lol) and it is every bit as good as you said. It’s part of an appetizer for dinner, so I have to control myself!

  84. Barb says:

    Just made it. Wow. Got the scrapes from our CSA.

  85. Hiya! Quick question that’s entirely off
    topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My blog looks weird when viewing from my iphone. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able
    to fix this issue. If you have any suggestions, please share.
    Cheers!

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