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Garlic Scape Pesto Two Ways

garlicscapepesto_closeup

This is my 150th DigginFood post! To celebrate I’m sharing two garlic scape pesto recipes. Scapes are the lovely, curvaceous flower buds that garlic plants send up in early summer. With the exception of a few lucky farmers market shoppers, practically the only people with access to these ephemeral, delicious vegetables are gardeners.

Scapes taste intensely garlicky, but their flavor is tempered with an exceptional sweet, grassy taste. They emerge in late spring—usually just before the solstice—and the flavor of both the flower bud and its curlicue stem intensifies with time. For the best flavor, and most tender stems, harvest the scapes within a few weeks of their emergence. This timing also encourages the plant to redirect its energy to enlarging the garlic bulb below ground. To harvest, I cut off the bud and about 8 to 10 inches of the stem with a sharp paring knife.

garlicscapes

To appreciate scapes all on their own, sauté them in a little butter until they are tender and browned in a few spots. With a little more effort, you can turn them into a pesto that works beautifully when tossed with potatoes, grilled zucchini, or pasta.

garlicscapepesto

Lemony Garlic Scape Pesto with Pasta and Fresh Peas
I used my grandmother’s basil pesto recipe as a jumping off  point for this pesto. My friend Mary Ann (who blogs at Idaho Gardener) also suggested adding squeeze of lime juice. I didn’t have a lime, so I used a lemon and some lemon zest instead. Oh my. The lemon’s bright citrusy flavor complements the scape’s pungent taste and the resulting pesto pairs up perfectly with English peas and pasta for a quick summertime meal.

You’ll need:
½ cup garlic scapes, finely chopped (about 8 to 10 scapes)
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup shelled walnuts
1/3 to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
1 1/2 cups freshly shelled peas
Salt
8 ounces pasta (I prefer bucatini or spaghetti)

Instructions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until it is tender but has just a bit of bite.

Meanwhile, in a food processor blend the garlic scapes, cheese, walnuts, lemon zest and juice into a smooth paste. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then, with the blade running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Process until the olive oil is thoroughly incorporated and the pesto is smooth. Give the pesto a taste and add salt if necessary.

Place the peas in the bottom of a colander. When the pasta is ready, reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water and then drain the pasta into the colander. The heat of the water and the pasta serves to quickly blanch the peas. Pour the pasta, the peas, and about ½ cup of the pesto into a large serving bowl. Add a few tablespoons of the pasta water (it helps distribute the pesto evenly) and toss to combine.

Garlic Scape (and basil if you want it) Pesto
I was going to make a batch of plain garlic scape pesto—just scapes, cheese, a few nuts, and olive oil—but while I was out harvesting the scapes, I noticed that my basil needed to be pinched back. So, I threw it into the mix. The result? A classic basil pesto with a big garlic punch.

You’ll need:
½ cup garlic scapes, finely chopped (about 8 to 10 scapes)
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup shelled walnuts
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon basil, finely chopped (optional)
Salt

Directions:
In a food processor blend the garlic scapes, cheese, and walnuts, into a smooth paste. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then, with the blade running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Process until the olive oil is thoroughly incorporated and the pesto is smooth. Give the pesto a taste and add salt if necessary.

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10 Responses to “Garlic Scape Pesto Two Ways”

  1. 1
    gardenmentor Says:

    YUM! I have a huge bundle of garlic scapes and a bag of peas — both from my CSA box. I may just try this out on my houseguests later in the week. Thanks!

  2. 2
    MA Says:

    Did you just love this? Roll around with happiness after eating it? Lordy, I did. It was like paradise on a plate! A real treat. I loved the addition of the walnuts in your G’s recipe. I’ll add those next time.

  3. 3
    Rose Says:

    Thanks for the recipe…I made garlic scape pesto last weekend…I find its also great on sandwiches or mixed w/butter and slathered on corn on the cob…our household is vegan, so we used Earth Balance buttery spread instead of butter…and it was yummy.

  4. 4
    Charlotte Says:

    Thanks for the recipe – I was lucky enough to score some garlic scape and artichoke pesto at the farm market – I’ll add peas, lemon and pasta for supper tonight!

  5. 5
    English Peas, Yes Please | DigginFood Says:

    [...] current obsession is to toss English peas with pasta and garlic scape pesto. In this dish you don’t even have to cook the peas. You just shell them directly into a [...]

  6. 6
    Daily Snapshots | DigginFood Says:

    [...] My English peas are setting pods right now (it’s about time!) and I cannot wait until they are ready and I can make my all-time favorite summer meal: pasta with garlic scape pesto! [...]

  7. 7
    How to Grow Garlic in Containers | DigginFood Says:

    [...] Grow hardneck varieties. This type of garlic produces tasty scapes (softneck types, which you typically find in grocery stores, do not make scapes). I would grow garlic for the scapes alone, because they make the world’s best pesto. [...]

  8. 8
    The Extra Edibles » Cycads Australia – Website Design Says:

    [...] http://www.digginfood.com/2009/07/garlic-scape-pesto-two-ways/ [...]

  9. 9
    The Extra Edibles | Garden Rant Says:

    [...] http://www.digginfood.com/2009/07/garlic-scape-pesto-two-ways/ [...]

  10. 10
    Onion scape and radish salad with honey mustard vinaigrette | Rake and Make Says:

    [...] had heard of garlic scapes from Willi Galloway’s post on Diggin Food about them, but I always grow softneck garlic for braiding and I don’t [...]

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