If you like garlic, then you’ll want to give this Garlic Scape Pesto a try.
Even if you’re not a huge fan of the pungent bulb, you might find the milder flavor of scapes appealing.
Scapes are the seed stalks that form on hardneck varieties of garlic. They do not flower, but will eventually produce “baby” bulbs that can be planted and will yield more garlic.
Most often, however, the scapes are removed so that the garlic plant can invest its energy into the bulb.
The elegant scapes were very often discarded or composted, but these days people have discovered that they make good eating so they are showing up more and more at farmers’ markets and grocery stores.
Scapes are fairly tender, with a milder garlic taste than mature bulbs. They can be steamed, stir-fried and grilled. They also make excellent pesto.
There are lots of recipes around for scape pesto, but I like this variation. It uses sunflower seeds rather than pine nuts – keeping things more frugal and local. The earthy taste of the seeds is a good foil to the garlic, I think, and also makes this nut-free friendly.
I used a half cup of olive oil, but you can vary the amount to create the consistency you want. Depending on the cheese you use, you may or may not need the additional salt suggested in the recipe.
Give the pesto a few hours to sit to give the flavors time to blend. The smell will be intensely garlicky, but the flavor will be less harsh than that of raw mature garlic.
What can you do with your pesto?
I add it to diced potatoes before roasting them in the oven. Brush it on some grilled bread. Use it on pizza. Once you’ve got a jar of it in the fridge, you’ll find lots of uses.
Garlic Scape Pesto will keep in the fridge for about a week. You can also double or triple the recipes and make extra for the freezer, where it can be stored for up to 3 months.
- 1 cup / 250 ml roughly chopped garlic scapes
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml sunflower seeds preferably toasted - see note below
- 2 tablespoons / 30 ml lemon juice
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml olive oil
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon / 2.5 ml salt optional
In bowl of food processor, combine garlic scapes and sunflower seeds. Pulse until the scapes are more finely chopped. If you prefer a chunkier pesto, leave larger pieces.
With machine running, slowly add olive oil and lemon juice.
Scrape sides of food processor, and add cheese.
Pulse until the cheese is thoroughly blended into pesto.
(If you want a thinner consistency, add up to 1/2 of additional olive oil at this point.)
Taste the pesto, and add the salt if necessary. Pulse to combine.
Spoon prepared pesto into a container. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours to give flavors time to blend. The pesto will become more solid as it cools, but will loosen up when removed from the fridge or heated.
It will keep in the fridge for about a week.
To toast sunflower seeds, place seeds in cold fry pan. Turn up heat under pan to medium-low. Stir seeds as the pan heats up, and continue stirring for about 5 minutes. The seeds should start to smell a bit toasty. Remove from heat immediately, and place in a bowl to prevent further cooking from the heat of the pan.