Garlic is a slow growing crop and benefits from being planted in the fall so it can begin to develop a root system. There are two main types of garlic, hardneck and softneck. Hardneck garlic develops a scape that is both edible and delicious. It has a mild garlic flavor and can be made into a pesto, added to salads, and even pickled.
In our travels, we first came across garlic scape pesto at an Italian marketplace on Bainbridge Island, WA called Via Rosa 11. The proprietor, Pino, made it with ricotta, and we ate it as a topping on bread and grilled vegetables.
Having ourselves planted garlic last fall and seeing the garlic develop scapes in mid-May we were excited to make garlic scape pesto ourselves. We decided to skip the ricotta and make a simple pesto using the scapes, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, fresh parmesan, salt and pepper. A simple recipe with a bold flavor.
Our first use of it was as a pesto on spaghetti. While traditionally pesto is made with basil and garlic, the absence of basil did not take anything away from the dish. A little garlic scape pesto goes a long way.
Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe
To harvest garlic scapes, wait for them to curl and cut them from the plant just above where they meet the leaves. Trim off the woody ends and cut into shorter lengths so that they fit into a food processor or blender. I harvested about 10 scapes for this recipe. Add the zest and juice of one lemon. Grate some fresh parmesan and add a pinch of salt and pepper. As you blend the ingredients, drizzle about half a cup of good extra virgin olive oil into the processor and blend until the ingredients form a pesto consistency. The garlic scape pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week, but it can also be frozen in cubes and used all summer long.