When garlic scapes are in season, this easy garlic scape pesto recipe is a must have!
Garlic scapes are the immature flowers of the garlic plant. Most farmers and backyard gardeners will snip these tender stems off of the green stalks early to encourage the plant to put more energy into growing a beautiful bulb than a flower.
If you’re not growing your own garlic, you really should! They are one of the easiest, hands-off plants to grow. Their growing season is long, but you rarely have to water or tend to them at all.
For more information check out my post on How and When to Harvest Garlic Scapes.
If you don’t garden, you can sometimes find these at your local market from a garlic grower for a couple of months, or in your CSA (community supported agriculture boxes).
I have yet to see them in the farmers’ markets near us, but have gotten them as a csa item.
But don’t worry! They’re not thrown away!
Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe
This recipe is super easy and super delicious!
This recipe simply replaces the garlic bulbs with the scapes, the flowering part of the garlic plant.
If this is your first time, first test the strength of your garlic scapes by biting into one. If you get your scapes from farmers markets, they can oftentimes their flavor can be so concentrated and potent that it makes for a STRONG pesto.
We harvest our fresh garlic scapes as early as possible so the flower hasn’t had a lot of time to develop and the mild garlic flavor is enjoyable.
We want to enjoy our pesto, not clear a room with our fragrant pesto breath.
If your scapes are too strong, place them in a colander in your sink and run a couple cups of boiling water over top. Let it drain well.
This tends to temper the really garlicky scapes.
To make the pesto, simply chop up your garlic scapes, and combine with pine nuts, juice from half a lemon, basil leaves, parmesan cheese, salt and black pepper to taste and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor.
Blend until smooth. You can either serve this batch of pesto immediately, store in a jar in the fridge with a layer of olive oil on top to keep the green from turning brown.
In the fridge it will last for a couple of days or you can pour your pesto into ice cube trays, freeze them, and store them in a ziploc bag.
Tips and Tricks
If you don’t have garlic scapes, you can always make traditional basil pesto and simply use two cloves of garlic instead.
To save money pine nuts can be substituted with walnuts, sunflower seeds, or pistachios!
The lemon juice can be substituted for lime or left out altogether.
If you want to double the recipe and make pesto to freeze, omit the cheese, freeze the pesto, and add the cheese when you serve it.
Choose your olive oil carefully, Greek olive oil plays up the garlic while Spanish olive oil cuts it.
No basil? Substitute the greens of carrot tops.
For a vegan garlic scape pesto recipe, simply omit the cheese!
How to Serve Garlic Scape Pesto
Naturally my first thought for pesto is pasta, with grilled shrimp on top.
But my favorite way make a pesto, sundried tomatoes and goat cheese bake on top of chicken or as a sandwich spread.
You can put on garlic breads, or over crostini, or on a white pizza.
- 10 garlic scapes
- 1/3 cup packed basil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.