Once you’ve tasted farm fresh garlic, it’s pretty hard to settle for store-bought varieties. But last year’s harvest has long been consumed and this year’s harvest won’t be ready to eat for another six weeks or so. Thankfully, garlic offers an early taste of its amazing flavor in the form of garlic scapes. And where scapes abound, farm fresh garlic scape pesto will make your taste buds dance with delight.
What is a garlic scape?
A garlic scape is the curly-q stem that begins to grow from the bulb of a hardneck garlic plant as it matures. If left untouched, it will straighten out and produce a garlic flower. Who knew? I sure didn’t!
What I also didn’t know is that the garlic scape needs to be removed so the plant will put the energy into the bulb. Thus, garlic requires a double harvest. First, the scapes, and then a month later, the bulbs.
How to use garlic scapes to make pesto
You’ll need about a pound of garlic scapes for this recipe, which is about 30 scapes. We offer garlic scapes seasonally, beginning in late June.
First, remove the tip of the scape. This is the flower. Use only the stems. If your garlic scapes have uncurled and are fairly straight, you may also have to remove the lowest portion of the stem because it gets too firm.
Then cut the stems into one- to two-inch pieces. You’ll need one cup of the stem pieces.
In addition to scapes, the key ingredients for pesto are basil, pine nuts, and Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheeses.
Traditionally, pesto is made by grinding the ingredients using a mortar and pestle. If time is short, we recommend using a food processor. Be sure the scapes and basil are cold when you are ready to make your pesto. It’s even recommended that you chill the blade of the food processor for an hour prior.
Start by blending the scapes and basil for 30 seconds.
Then add the pine nuts and blend for another 30 seconds. While the nuts are blending, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheeses, lemon juice, and pepper to taste.
Finally, we waited until the very end to add the salt since Pecorino Romano is a salty cheese and we didn’t want to overdo it. We took a taste and added just a bit of salt.
The first taste may be a bit bitter but after a night in the refrigerator the flavors will meld together and mellow out and the end result will be scrumptious!
We quadrupled this recipe and got six cups of pesto. With pesto, a little goes a long way so we recommend using one cup jars for storage. It keeps in the freezer for months.
Steak or grilled chicken with a side of pesto pasta is amazing. Or simply spread it on grilled ciabatta alongside a salad.
Pesto pizza with a white sauce is delicious. Even something as simple as a grilled cheese sandwich can be turned into a flavor carnival by using sourdough or whole grain bread, deli cheese and meat of your choice, and pesto. Yum!
Farm Fresh Garlic Scape Pesto
- 1 cup garlic scapes, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup grated blend of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheeses
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a food processor, blend the garlic scapes and basil for 30 seconds
- Add the pine nuts and blend for another 30 seconds
- While the pine nuts are blending, slowly drizzle in the olive oil
- Add the grated cheese, lemon juice, and pepper and blend.
- Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.