June 26, 2010

Garlic Scape Pesto

The allium family has very decorative habits; like Egyptian onions, stiff necked garlic has scapes with flowers at their ends, but instead of standing tall, they curl and cavort in beautiful arabesques. The garlic bulb will grow larger if these scapes are removed, so the question becomes what to do with this crop of crisp, mildly garlic flavored stems. Last year I looked around on the internet and found a recipe for garlic scape pesto, and it is delicious. The scapes, chopped finely in a food processor, have a nice crunch as a main feature. Because the texture is lost, it doesn't do well coming from the freezer; in this it is different from basil pesto. It's a wonderful meal for this time of year, and becomes extra special because of its limited season.

Garlic Scape Pesto
10 garlic scapes, chopped
1/3 - 1/2 cup Parmesan Reggiano, grated
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
  1. Put the garlic scapes, 1/3 cup cheese, all the almonds, and 1/4 cup olive oil in the food processor and blend until the scapes are chopped fine.
  2. Add remaining oil and more cheese if desired. Add salt to taste.
Makes enough for 1 pound of pasta.


  1. We had garlic scape pesto for supper last night (Annie added some basil that needed to be used, and some marigolds) and it's a good thing we don't have to talk to anybody but ourselves today. Phew! Our breath would kill. Ours are anything but mild.

  2. oh, I hope you didn't find the pesto too strong, Susan. I made it for friends a couple of days ago and they loved it. I did notice, however, that the leftovers got stronger and stronger and by the 3rd day were pretty intense.

  3. I was one of the friends Altoon introduced to garlic scape pesto a few days ago(mid-meal, she whipped away a portion of what she had set on the table, and took it outdoors to photograph it, just like that, rat-a-tat-tat. and the fact is that I've eaten it three times since then; one of those three times as a solo go at leftovers, which was as fine as the 2 Originals on either side of it. I think -- I confess -- that part of the pleasure in all four scape feasts was the plentiful glisten of olive oil on the combination, and the plentiful cheese throughout. Hard summer tasks grow the appetite's delight in calories calories calories. Not to mention the pasta at the base of it all.
    And here's a piece of history: in the past, we here had always discarded most of the scape-stalk, eating (sauteed and alone ... and wastefully) just the tender end bits. Influenced by that habit, I have to confess that I've had to teach my mouth to accept as nice, too, the almost-gritty consistency of the main part of the stalk, however well-blenderized. "Scape," by the way, comes from the Latin "scapus," shaft, stem, stalk. From "scapus" comes also "scepter. A nice lexicographic package altogether. Jules

  4. Oh, thank you, Jules, for the etymology! That's a great word.
    And I like strong tastes.

    Another thing people throw out is the green parts of the leeks. What a waste!

  5. The comments are as interesting as the post...and I thought the post was excellent Altoon!
    ps wish i was there... tasting garlic scape pesto and spagetti in the summery rural landscape where you all live!

  6. thanks all, for the lively contributions. Jules: the word history is very interesting; I think of a king holding a garlic scape as a symbol of authority and laugh. I'm glad you like the strong taste, Susan. And Sophie, wouldn't it be great if you could teleport here to Vermont for some summer meals and conversation.

  7. Could I do this with chives?

  8. annette, it wouldn't at all be the same with chives; they don't have the crunchy texture of the chopped scapes, or the delicious garlic flavor. But you can make a pasta sauce out of anything, so chopped chives and olive oil and cheese sounds good too. Then you could add some chopped garlic, or even anchovies, if you like them.

    1. Im going to try that. I too wish i could be teleported to your garden.