Garlic Scape Pesto

No clever headlines here, just aromatic and peppery garlic scapes made into a savory pesto.  Bonus:  it freezes very well, making it a welcome winter addition to pastas, gratins, souffles, meat schmears, and even salad dressings.

Where do you get these?  If you are growing garlic, you’ll notice that as they near maturity pretty, swan like stalks emerge that contain the beginning of seed heads.  Yes, garlic can be grown not only from cloves, but from seeds.  Your farmer’s market or Asian market might have them featured. I’ve even seen them offered seasonally on Etsy and through the local Facebook Marketplace.  There is a short window to harvest the scapes, so there’s no use trying to make this in the dead of winter.    Here at the 47th parallel, our scapes came into their own the first week of June.  If you are interested in getting a big head of garlic, you will want to remove the scapes to allow the bulb to develop more robustly without having to put energy into the scape/seed head.

I have a modest garlic patch—only 50 or so plants, and perhaps fewer due to a gopher family that acquired a taste for them.  (The gophers have been dispatched, but perhaps we should have stewed them up, as they had gorged/marinated themselves nicely with my garlic!)

If you have not totally lost your appetite by now, read on. 

There are many different ways to treat the scapes:

The list probably can continue!

Since I had a small amount, I wanted to maximize my prep.  I came across a lonely bag of blanched almonds in my freezer, so I sentenced my scapes to become pesto.

For any pesto, I generally use equal amounts of nuts, cheese and herbs/greens. These are added to the food processor and whizzed, with olive oil added generously (1-2 times the amount of your dry ingredients) while running the food processor.  I also added lemon juice to loosen it a bit and salt to taste.  If you want to thin your pesto, you could use lemon juice, wine, vinegar, hip celery juice, or water (etc.).  Most recipes chop off the seed head.  I did not for pesto.  It turned out great.

Some people like their pesto runny.  I like mine pasty so that it can be added easily into other foods and thinned out later as needed.  Some people like their nuts crunchy; some like it completely smooth.  You choose.

For the batch featured in this blog, I used 1 ½ C scapes (rough chopped), 1 ½ C almonds, 1 ½  C Asiago cheese (shredded), 1 T salt, 3 T lemon juice, 1 ½- 2  C olive oil. 

I spooned the pesto into small storage cups and froze all but one.  These should be good for over a year in the freezer. 

No food processor?  You can make this in your blender, but you’ll need to make it thinner.

Mix and match pestos!  You can make many different combinations of pesto.   Most use the same ratio of greens, nuts, cheese, and olive oil.   Here are some of my favorites. For all of these add olive oil and seasonings of your choosing.

basilpine nutsParmesan
cilantrowalnutsgoat cheese (only 1/2 C)
parsleyhazelnuts & dried cherries (add 1-2 T cherries at the last pulse*)dry white cheddar
basilwalnuts and dried cranberries (add 1-2 T cranberries at the last pulse*)cream cheese (only 1/2 C)

*add at the very end or it may turn brownish

Stay briny,



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