I avoid shoes whenever possible in the summertime.
In fact, if I do find myself in a position where I have to wear shoes and socks for a long while on a stifling summer day, I get pretty grouchy, pretty quickly.
Therefore, my favorite summer meals are the ones where I can run outside barefoot and harvest the bulk of the ingredients a few steps from my front door, which is exactly the case for this garlic scape pesto recipe.
Barefoot farming is where its at, y’all. Hmmm… that’d be a good book title, “Barefoot Farming“…
But yeah, back to the garlic scapes.
Scapes are one of the beautiful bonuses of growing your own garlic. (Because you ARE growing your own garlic this year, right?)
Before the bulbs themselves are ready to pluck from the ground, you’ll find the delightfully elegant scapes growing in curves and swirls high above the leaves of your hardneck garlic plants.
It’s wise to clip them to help the plant put its full resources into the final maturation of the bulb under the ground, but that sure as heck doesn’t mean you have to discard the scapes.
If you’re a garlic fanatic (like me), you’ll be ecstatic to know the scapes carry the same pungent garlic flavor as the bulbs.
It’s like the best two-for-one deal EVAH.
What to Do with Garlic Scapes?
Oh so many options, my friends. SO many options:
- Grill them
- Saute them in butter (either alone or with other veggies)
- Add them to stir-fry for a pop of garlic flavor
- Mince them up and make compound butter
- Chop them fine and add to any salad, pasta, casserole, or other recipe that benefits from a fresh garlic flavor
- Make garlic scape pesto (which we’ll do below…)
How to Harvest Garlic Scapes
You’ll see the scape stalk growing up from the leaves of the garlic plant. Clip it with scissors, or snap it with your fingers down low at the base. Younger scapes are more desirable as they tend to be more tender and mild. However, I used mature scapes in my latest batch of pesto, and simply discarded the tougher, woodier base-portion when I was chopping them. (It reminded me of the woody stalk of an overly-mature asparagus). I also cut off the flower/bulb at the top and gave it to my pigs. Although I know some folks eat that part too.
Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe
- 1 cup garlic scapes, cut into 1″ pieces
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup cashews
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
In a food processor, process the garlic scapes and basil for 30 seconds.
Add the nuts and process for another 30 seconds.
Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you continue to run the food processor.
Add in the parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Mix and taste, adjusting the salt/pepper as desired.
Garlic Scape Pesto Notes:
- More mature scapes will be spicer, so give them a taste before you make the pesto so you know what you’re working with. Mine were pretty intense, so I added the basil to help mellow things out. However, if you want to omit the basil, you can.
- You can use pretty much ANY nut in this recipe– walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, you name it!
- Definitely use REAL parmesan cheese here– no weird powdery stuff in the green can, please.
- Pesto freezes extremely well, and often mellows out a bit in the freezer.
- If you’re not growing garlic this year, check your farmer’s market for scapes. They are becoming more popular, and it’s likely you can find them there.
- 1 cup garlic scapes, cut into 1" pieces
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves
- ⅓ cup cashews
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
- In a food processor, process the garlic scapes and basil for 30 seconds.
- Add the nuts and process for another 30 seconds.
- Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you continue to run the food processor.
- Add in the parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Mix and taste, adjusting the salt/pepper as desired.
- Use the pesto over fresh homemade pasta (my favorite), use it as a sauce for homemade pizza, or smear it on a bit of crusty bread.