Garlic Scape Pesto

June 15, 2024

By Anna Varriano

Mid-to-late June (in the Ottawa-area anyway!) is the time for garlic scapes! Garlic scapes are the vibrant, curly shoots that emerge from garlic plants, enticing us with their unique flavor and versatile culinary applications. These delightful green shoots add a visually appealing touch to any dish and also offer a range of health benefits. If you grow garlic, now is the time to harvest the scapes in order to enjoy them at the peak of their tenderness and flavour, and also to encourage the growth of larger garlic bulbs. If you don’t grow garlic, you can find garlic scapes at local farmers markets and many produce stores.

One of my favourite ways to enjoy garlic scapes is to make garlic scape pesto. Here’s my recipe! You will need a food processor to make this recipe. It will take you 10 – 15 minutes to prepare it. You will end up with about 1 cup of garlic scape pesto that will keep in the fridge for 5-7 days. It can also be frozen in various serving sizes (whatever will suit your needs) for 6 to 12 months.

What You’ll Need:

  • 15 garlic scapes (about 125 grams/1 cup when cut up into roughly 1″ pieces)
  • about 10 fresh leaves of basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nutes or chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Step 1: Prepping the scapes

Cut the ‘flowering’ end off the scape. If the other end is ‘woody’, you can trim it back. Then cut up the scapes into roughly 1″ pieces. You should end up with a generous cup of cut up scapes:

Step 2: Roast the pine nuts

Roast 1/4 cup of pine nuts or walnuts. I love both but used pine nuts this time as I found them on sale. Pine nuts can be very expensive … especially when you have a habit of burning them. Guilty!!! I typically roast them in our toaster oven until they are just golden, which usually happens at 350C for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring them at the half-way mark. I watched them like a hawk this time! 

Step 3: Blending

Put all the ingredients EXCEPT THE OLIVE OIL into a food processor and run until everything has mixed together but is still coarse. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil until you achieve the consistency that you want. You may have to stop the food processor and scrape down the sides once or twice. After adding 1/4 cup of the olive oil, it should look like this:

I wanted mine a bit smoother, so I added another 1/8 cup of olive oil. This was the finished product:

If you want it even smoother/thinner, keep drizzling olive oil into the food processor until you achieve your desired texture.

You can use the pesto right away, or freeze it. I just line a small cutting board with wax paper, scoop out heaping tablespoons, put the cutting board in the freezer until the scoops are frozen solid, then transfer them into a plastic bag and keep frozen until I want to use some:

Enjoy!

I immediately used 3 to 4 TBSP of the pesto to make 2 bowls of soba noodle (buckwheat) pasta, topped with fresh cut up tomatoes and some grated parmesan. Roasting a few extra pine nuts would also make a great garnish. 

While using pesto in pasta dishes is very popular, it’s also great on fish, chicken, and veggies, and it’s a yummy addition to wraps, salad dressings, and dips (or use it straight as a dip!). Experiment and enjoy!

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