I Made This: Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic Scape Pesto, garlic scapes, jessica dailey

I know what you’re thinking. “Garlic scapes? Jess, you did not get garlic scapes in your first CSA.” I know, I know. If you haven’t noticed, I’m quite slow at posting (this pesto is long gone by now), and we’re already on our third CSA delivery. Just bear with me. I promise CSA veggie recipes will be on the way.

But right now, let’s talk about this pesto. Have you ever had garlic scapes? Have you ever seen them? You may have thought, “what the heck are these crazy curly things?” Well. I will tell you.

Garlic Scape Pesto, garlic scapes, jessica dailey

Local highlight: Garlic Scapes from Phillips Farms in Hunterdon County, NJ

Scapes are the fresh green shoots that grow out of hardneck garlic, and they are cut off because, if left on, they’d just take away from the formation of a nice plump garlic bulb. And that’s the last thing that anyone wants. Me, especially. Garlic scapes are garlicky, vegetal, and slightly herby, so they can be used in so many ways. The best way (at least in my book) to use them is to make a pesto, but my parents love them just sauteed or grilled.

This pesto, like most pestos, is best with a pasta; something with curves or crevices, like fusilli, shells, or penne, so the pesto gets really stuck to it. To make the pasta into a heartier entree, consider adding other veggies and a protein. We threw in some sauteed crimini mushrooms and a can of sardines (canned sardines may not be local, but they are super sustainable and a staple in our diet). Another favorite use of mine is to spread it on toast and top it with a fried egg. Or you could spread it on crackers. Or use it as a dressing for an antipasto salad. Or just eat it with a spoon… not that I’ve done that. But if you happen to do that, make sure you chew a lot of gum after.

Garlic Scape Pesto, garlic scapes, jessica dailey


  • One large bunch garlic scapes cut into 2 inch pieces. This is about 20 scapes, 2 cups chopped, or a 3-inch diameter bunch.
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup roughly chopped walnuts. Pine nuts are also a good choice, but walnuts are cheaper. I’ve also seen recipes that use pistachios.
  • 1/2 cup packed grated parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste. You don’t really need to add any pepper because the scapes have a nice spicy bite.

*This makes about 2 cups pesto, which goes a long way. This could easily be halved and you’d have plenty for a pasta dinner, with some leftover. Also, you may want to add a bit of lemon zest. I did not, but our pasta dish was really enhanced with a bit of fresh lemon juice, but then again, we also had sardines in our pasta and lemon and sardines go together like PB & J. I digress.


  • Pulse scapes, walnuts, and cheese in a food processor until the mixture is finely chopped
  • Add the olive oil, a bit at a time, pausing the machine to scrape down the edges to make sure everything gets evenly incorporated and pulsed.
  • Season with salt, as needed.
  • Enjoy!

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