Garlic Scape Pesto
June 15, 2012
Ah, garlic scape season. I LOVE garlic scapes. The tops of garlic plants, which much be removed so that the plant can focus its energy on the bulb part, these former discards (at least in this country) have become quite the Farmers’ Market darling. And with good reason – they are very versatile, and probably one of the coolest, funkiest looking produce items you can find.
They are much milder than garlic cloves, and there are many simple ways to prepare them. You can chop them up to use in place of green onions, blanch them for a minute and then cut into bite size pieces to use as garlicky green-bean like veggies, or add them chopped to soups. But at least once a season I like to use them to make pesto! I guess some people use the garlic scapes in place of basil, but I make mine with both the scapes and basil.
In the interest of cutting fat a bit, and just to be different, I use a combination of pine nuts and pumpkin seeds. I also tend to use ALOT less olive oil than most recipes for pesto call for. Feel free to increase the amount if you’d like.
I wanted to include the following picture, just because I thought it looked really cool. One of the most enjoyable things for me about cooking with food fresh from the Farmers’ Market is the vibrancy of the ingredients. I love color, so I find myself just stopping and staring at things every once in a while because they are so pretty with spring and summer produce!
My husband felt that the pesto had a very ‘green’ taste, with a bit of an iron aftertaste, but I really enjoy the slightly sharper edge. There are a couple of things you can try if you want to make it a bit more mild. First, you can blanch the garlic scapes briefly and then shock them in a waterbath, which will make them much more mild. Second, using more olive oil will mellow the flavor out quite a bit.
Garlic Scape Pesto
makes pasta sauce for 12-16 oz of pasta
10 garlic scapes*
1 spring garlic stalk (or 1 clove common garlic)
2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp pine nuts
1/2 c packed basil leaves
3/4 oz grated pecorino romano (or parmesan)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 to 6 Tbsp olive oil (the more, the milder)
3 Tbsp chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 tsp salt
Chop the scapes into 1 inch segments. Put the scapes, garlic, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, and basil leaves into a food processor, and process. Add the lemon juice and stock gradually to assist in the processing. Add the cheese, 2 Tbsp of olive oil and the salt, process until smoothish, and taste. Adjust the olive oil and salt to your liking. Serve on pasta.
* If you want a bit milder taste, blanch the scapes in boiling water for about 30-60 seconds, then plunge them into an ice bath to stop the cooking.