Garlic Scape Pesto

published Jul 11, 2023
summer
Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe

Pair this easy and flavorful garlic scape pesto with everything, from pasta to roasted vegetables and grilled meat.

Makes1 cup

Prep10 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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garlic scape pesto in a bowl on a marble surface with some being spooned out
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Debbie Wee

A few years back, I went through a pesto-making phase. I made pesto with sun-dried tomatoes, I made pesto with broccoli, and I even made one with carrot tops. Although each of those was delicious in its own way, pesto made with garlic scapes is far and away my favorite way to get my pesto on. 

With its softer garlicky flavor and vibrant green hue, garlic scape pesto comes together in a pinch, thanks to a food processor, and pairs well with nearly everything, from pasta dinners to fish and seafood to steak

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Debbie Wee

What Are Garlic Scapes?

Curly garlic scapes are the unopened flower stems that “shoot” out from the top of garlic bulbs.

The scapes are harvested because, if left to grow, the plants will focus all of their energy into the flowers, ultimately producing bulbs that are on the smaller side and less pungent. Compared to raw garlic cloves, garlic scapes have a fresher, more vegetal flavor. 

Ingredients You Need to Make Garlic Scape Pesto

  • Garlic scapes: Garlic scapes are typically sold in bunches. While you only need five scapes for this recipe, they keep extremely well when stored in the fridge (for up to three weeks!). To use up the rest of the bunch, you can use them as you would regular garlic cloves (just double the amount for a more prominent flavor); slice them up and add them to stir-fries; or  toss them with salt, pepper, and olive oil and grill them.
  • Lemon: Fresh juice and zest adds brightness to the pesto.
  • Parmesan cheese: Adds a touch of creaminess, along with a salty kick. 
  • Pistachios: Whether they’re raw or roasted and salted, use whichever you like or have handy. 
  • Baby spinach: I like adding a handful of baby spinach to the mix to mellow the garlic scapes’ assertive flavor. 
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Debbie Wee

How to Use Garlic Scape Pesto

This garlicky, bright-green pesto is super versatile — use it as you would any pesto

Here Are a Few Ideas to Get You Started  

  • Toss it with your favorite cooked pasta shape.
  • Mix it into chicken salad.
  • Slather it on sandwiches as a condiment.
  • Serve it with grilled or roasted vegetables, meat, and fish.
  • Stir it into softened butter and spread it on toast.

Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe

Pair this easy and flavorful garlic scape pesto with everything, from pasta to roasted vegetables and grilled meat.

Prep time 10 minutes

Makes 1 cup

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 5

    garlic scapes

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 1/2 ounce

    Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup grated)

  • 1/4 cup

    raw or roasted, salted, shelled pistachios

  • 1 packed cup

    baby spinach (1 1/2 ounces)

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup

    extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Trim the ends from 5 garlic scapes and coarsely chop. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon until you have 1 teaspoon; juice the lemon until you have 2 tablespoons. Finely grate 1/2 ounce Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 packed cup).

  2. Place the garlic scapes, 1/4 cup pistachios, and 1 packed cup baby spinach in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until finely chopped, about 15 seconds.

  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the lemon juice and zest, Parmesan, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Process until a uniform paste has formed, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through, about 15 seconds total.

  4. With the motor running, stream in 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue blending as needed until the olive oil is fully emulsified and the pesto looks uniform, about 5 seconds.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight container with a sheet plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the pesto for up to 1 week.

Make ahead: Garlic scape pesto can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for several months.