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Four years ago we started growing our own garlic. And by “we”, I mean Larry – as is often the case with growing things you can actually eat. I grow flowers, Larry grows food. But then, I cook the food, so he is not complaining.
Anyway, this Garlic Scape Pesto is a great way to use something we get a whole heck of a lot of this time of year. When you grow two hundred heads of garlic, guess how many garlic scapes you get? That is correct – you get two hundred garlic scapes. That’s a lot.
Scapes are important to the garlic – it’s how more garlic plants happen. There are little seeds in the bigger round part, and if you leave the scapes in place, they would eventually burst open, scattering ripe seeds around, which will germinate and make more garlic plants. Unfortunately, in so doing, they draw nutrients away from the growing of the bulb they are on – and the bulbs are what is important to us. So, they all have to be cut off. And since we can’t stand to waste anything, we are working on finding ways to use them.
I have tried various ways to cook garlic scapes, and to be honest, they are not our favorite thing. We try to catch them when they’re still really small, because if they get very big at all, we find them to be unpleasantly tough and chewy. They have a great flavor, but the texture is – not so great.Fortunately, they are really wonderful in pesto, because we get all the great flavor and they get completely ground up, so texture isn’t an issue. And we LOVE pesto. I make as much of it as I can every summer and freeze it in ice cube trays to enjoy through the winter. Once the pesto is frozen solid, you can just pop the cubes out of the tray and store them in ziplock bags or other containers. You do want to have some trays dedicated solely to pesto and like substances though – the ice cube trays will absorb the flavor and pesto flavored iced tea is surprisingly un-tasty.
You will likely be able to find garlic scapes at your local Farmer’s Market this time of year, or maybe even in your CSA box. If you know someone who grows garlic, they might have some to share – they are worth looking for!
Garlic Scape Pesto
- 1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
- 1/2 cup fresh basil packed tightly - then roughly chopped
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- kosher salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup good quality olive oil
- Add everything but the oil to the bowl of a food processor
- Process until everything is finely chopped and almost a paste.
- Leave the processor running and stream in oil
- It will only take a moment of two for the mixture to emulsify - turn off processor.
- Leave at room temperature for an hour or so to develop flavors- keep plastic wrap pressed to top surface to keep the top from turning brown.
- Can be stored in the refrigerator for several days, or can be frozen.
Garlic Scape Pesto is wonderful anywhere that you would use ordinary pesto – on vegetables, pasta, in sandwiches, topping a bowl of soup – just about anything, really. Experiment to find how you like to use it most!