Introduction: Garlic Scape Pesto

About: I love to spend time in the kitchen to relax and feed those I love with great eats and treats.

Looking out a window where it's 2 degrees outside and 4 inches of snow are on the ground I'm happy to share one of my favorite spring snacks, garlic scape pesto.

Another gem supplied by my local farmers' market; garlic scapes are non-flowering stalks of the garlic, basically baby garlic, cutting them gives the actual bulbs more strength to grow. They taste like a blend of garlic and scallions, a nice punch of garlic, but not quite harshness of eating raw garlic. They show up in the spring only for a few weeks, but are sturdy enough to freeze well (some people freeze them whole, I usually chop and freeze in pieces, ready for another batch of pesto). Since a lot of farmers cut and compost them, they are usually really cheap, stock up if you come across them in your area. 

Among other uses (they can easily replace garlic in most recipes), they make a fantastic pesto. Even better, you can freeze the pesto so when winter just won't end, you can bring some spring to your taste buds and dream of sunny days to come. This recipe, from Serious Eats, is my favorite, I use half basil to create a somewhat classic pesto, with a kick of garlicky goodness. Be warned, this pesto is garlicky! Scapes mellow very much when cooked, so if you don't want quite the punch, you could saute (let them cool) before adding to the pesto, and as I mentioned, this pesto can be frozen, that will also lessen the punch. 

Here I served the pesto on crostini to accompany our shrimp scampi, also made with scapes, pasta dinner. Hopefully this year you seek out some garlic scapes to snack on too, enjoy! 

Makes about 1 cup, recipe (and other great scape ideas) from Serious Eats

Step 1: Gather and Prepare Ingredients

You'll need: 

1/4 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup coarsely chopped garlic scapes* (rinse and pat dry before cutting) 
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
A few generous grinds of black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

*Or use half scapes and half herbs such as basil, dill and chervil (I used half basil) 

In a small, dry pan set over very low heat, lightly toast the pine nuts, stirring or tossing occasionally until just beginning to brown, about 2-3 minutes. (I used my toaster oven, just watch them carefully.) Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Step 2: Blend It Up

Combine the scapes, pine nuts, lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse about 20 times, until fairly well combined. (I pulsed the scapes, zest, and basil before adding the pine nuts to give them a head start on getting finely chopped.)

Pour in the olive oil slowly through the feed tube while the motor is running. When the oil is incorporated, transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the grated cheese (I pulsed it a couple times to combine). If you plan to freeze the pesto, wait to add the cheese until after you've defrosted it.

Step 3: Serve and Enjoy

While this pesto makes a delicious pasta sauce, we enjoy it on crostini, served alongside a pasta dish. I love it as a snack; if you have some 3-cheese bread, toast it and spread with the pesto for a wonderful treat. (I'd eat a couple breath mints if returning to work after eating this though!) 

For the crostini: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice bread of choice (we like baby French, Italian, 3-cheese, or a baguette), into 1/2-inch slices. If you prefer (we do), brush some olive oil on the bread. Bake until dry and crisp, about 10 minutes, flipping slices halfway through baking time. 

Remove from oven and spread with the garlic scape pesto, enjoy! 

The pesto will keep a day in the refrigerator, be sure to place plastic wrap directly on the surface to avoid as much air exposure as possible. 

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