Garlic Scape Pesto

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

–Mary Oliver

garlic scapes Garlic Scape Pesto

The arrival of garlic scapes at the market makes me Christmas morning happy–their appearance marks the start of a deluge of summer produce.

Garlic scapes are the green, curly cue shoots that grow from hardneck garlic plants, where flowers might otherwise sprout. Farmers cut away these scapes regardless, so that all growing energy is diverted to the garlic bulb growing underground. Scapes make for delicious eating on their own though, so they need not go to waste.

In the northeast, garlic scapes appear in June and July. Raw, they taste like a fresher, greener, less astringent version of mature garlic. Cooked, they have a garlicy, lemony-leek flavor.

garlic scapes

I made this pesto a few weeks ago for a group of friends; it was such a big hit, I decided to post it here. That first time, I served it as an alternative to ketchup and mustard. We grilled pork, chicken, and venison sausages; the pesto worked deliciously with all three.

Since then, I’ve used this pesto to sauce the base of a pizza, to enhance a muffaletta sandwich, and to add heft to a breakfast sandwich of scrambled eggs and mozzarella cheese. I’ve dolloped it over tomato-avocado and raw zucchini salads. It goes well with fish and shrimp. I like it as a dip for barely-blanched green beans. Basically, if you enjoy garlic, you will enjoy this garlic scape pesto.

The pesto is good for up to 10 days, covered, in the fridge. Makes about 1.5 cups

Garlic Scape Pesto

  • ingredients:
  • 1 bunch (about 7/120 grams) garlic scapes
  • 1 small bunch (90 grams) basil
  • 1/3 cup (25 grams) grated Parmesan
  • 3 tablespoons (30 grams) pumpkin seeds
  • the juice and zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 cracks black pepper
  • 3/4 cup (188 ml) olive oil

  • procedure:
  •      Add the garlic scapes (washed and dried) and the basil (also washed and dried) to the bowl of a food processor; pulse 25 times. Add the Parmesan, pumpkin seeds, zest and juice, salt and pepper. Turn the on processor while, in a steady stream, you add the olive oil. Blend for 1 minute, or until the scapes and basil are well pureed. Taste the pesto; adjust the salt and lemon if needed.

Garlic Scape Pesto Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic Scape Pesto


  1. Alice

    It waks really such a délice !! I want to eat it again and again ! Thank You for sharing

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