If you’re a garlic lover like we are, you can’t pass by those tender garlic scapes this time of year! Whether you pick them up at the local farmer’s market, grocery store or grow your own garlic, we’ll show you how to harvest, prepare and then store those tender stems with this delicious and easy garlic scape pesto recipe.
What are garlic scapes?
Garlic scapes are the long, leafless flower stalks sprouting directly from garlic bulbs during a part of the garlic growing cycle. The scape forms in late spring to early summer, producing a flower at the tip which then turns into seeds for future planting.
In addition to creating seeds, garlic scapes are deliciously edible and can be used to make a tasty garlic scapes pesto. This pesto, which has a mild garlic flavor, can then be used in place of garlic in your favorite recipes. Just as you would a traditional basil pesto, you can enjoy this easy pesto:
- in your cooking (try our easy garlic shrimp scampi);
- as a great marinade;
- as a sandwich spread or on your favorite lunch wraps or garlic bread;
- in homemade garlic butter.
Removing the scapes from the growing garlic is an important step in garlic gardening to ensure all of the plant’s energy and nutrients go towards forming larger bulbs. We have a whole post on how to plant garlic if you’re interested in learning more!
What is pesto?
Pesto is traditionally known for being made up of basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, and coarse salt, all blended with olive oil, forming an oily green paste that is most used for a simple pasta sauce.
Similar to a traditional pesto, garlic scapes pesto is also an uncooked sauce (made from raw scapes) with a subtle garlic flavor.
How to Use Garlic Scapes Pesto?
Adding it to our non-creamy pasta salad is a favorite way we enjoy this treat.
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How to Make Garlic Scapes Pesto:
When to Harvest Garlic Scapes
Scapes are ready about a month before the garlic bulb is ready to harvest. For us here in South Western, Ontario (zone 6b), we remove the garlic scapes at the end of June and beginning of July.
Wait until the center stem completely forms and grows above the rest of the plant forming a white flower bud. Don’t mistake the leaves of the garlic plant with the scapes: the scape is a long, stiff, tube-like structure which curls at the ends.
Using a pair of gardening sheers, cut the stem just above the leaf if emerges from.
Next, cut off and discard the seed pods (or put aside to fully dry for using to plant garlic in the Fall). To make the garlic scape pesto, use only the tender shoots, discarding any overly hard and woody segments.
Preparing Garlic Scape Pesto
Cut the scape stems into 1” long pieces and wash. (Note: Try setting aside some of the scapes to sautee as you would green beans.)
Place the pieces in the bowl of a food processor to chop. Chop until the texture of the scapes is coarse but not too smooth and creamy.
Add 1/3 cup of olive oil, water and coarse saPulse together until a consistent texture is reached.
How to Store the Garlic Scapes Pesto?
Typically, once made up, your garlic scape pesto should be used fresh within a day or two. You can however place is in an airtight container such as a sealed mason jar and store in the fridge for a couple of weeks, up to one month.
Alternatively, this pesto freezes really well. So place any unused pesto into ice cube trays, and one frozen, transfer to freezer bags. This is an easy way to enjoy that great garlic flavor for a long time! Simply remove the pesto from the freezer and leave it to thaw for use as needed.
Tip: This same process for making garlic scapes pesto can also be done for fresh parsley. A parsley pesto is perfect for freezing and then using to make a soup broth throughout the cold winter months.
Easy Garlic Scapes Pesto Recipe
- Food Processor
- 500ml Mason Jar
- 1 cup coarsely chopped garlic scapes
- 1/3 cup olive oil extra virgin
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
Harvesting Garlic Scapes
- Garlic scapes should be harvested one month before the bulb is ready for harvesting.
- Wait until the center stalk completely forms and grows above the rest of the plant.
- Using a pair of gardening sheers, cut off and discard the seeds.
- Use the part of the stem that is softer, not hard and woody.
Preparing Garlic Scapes Pesto
- Cut stems into 1” long pieces and wash.
- Place pieces in a food processor to chop. The texture of the scapes should be coarse, not too smooth and creamy.
- Add olive oil, water and coarse salt. Stir together.
- Place mixed pesto in jar and seal with a lid.
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