Good Eats: Garlic Scape Pesto

By Debra Knapke

Sorry for the short notice, but the time is now: go outside and collect your garlic scapes, otherwise known as the flowering stem of a garlic plant.   Flower and seed production takes energy away from the developing head of garlic which you will be harvesting at the end of June to mid-July.  Now, don’t throw those scapes away!  You can sauté them, add them to pasta, rice and vegetable dishes or you can create a subtle pesto that has the smell and flavor of leeks.  Last night it was a bright green swirl of flavor in a seafood stew.  Once tomato season arrives, it will be an accent to our favorite gazpacho.

This flavorful food accent is easy to make.  I use a rough ratio of scapes to olive oil to nuts.  Pesto is a “recipe” that is infinitely morph-able.  I have added a handful or two of parsley or not.  I’ve used cashews – my favorite for garlic scape pesto – almonds, pecan, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts.  Freshly ground pepper is a must and salt is up to you.  Leave the cheese out.  It either gums up the texture or covers the delicate flavor of the pesto. Add cheese later to the finished dish.

We freeze “extra” pesto in 2 oz. plastic cups.

This year we harvested close to 400 scapes from large garlic plants and first year seedlings.  We will harvest the large plants for their bulbs and spread out the seedlings for next year’s crop.

Garlic Scape Pesto guidelines

¾ c    garlic scapes, white to light green sections (darker green may be too tough), coarsely chopped

¼ c    olive oil (may need more)

¼ c    nuts of choice

A handful or two of parsley or spinach (optional – makes the garlic scapes go further)

Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste


Using a food processor, process to a paste, adding olive oil if it seems too dry.  Bon appetite!


One response to “Good Eats: Garlic Scape Pesto

  1. Don H.

    Thanks for the recipe Debra. We have had garlic coming up in an old section of the garden left by the previous owner. Now we know what to do with the scapes.

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