Summer had a bit of a late start here this year, but our vegetable garden is finally starting to produce. One of the new things were tried this year was growing our own garlic, and with that comes a lovely bonus – garlic scapes! I was eager to find a way to use them up, when I heard about Garlic Scape Pesto. Usually I can’t have pesto because it contains nuts, but it turns out it’s easier than I thought to make it nut free!
Over the last couple years, our vegetable garden has really started to flourish, thanks to lots of advice and help from family and friends. I have loved being able to create home cooked meals for our family that is grown right in our backyard. Even if you don’t have the space or time to grown your own, there are so many great farmers markets now and small farms that have roadside stands. Before we had a garden of our own, we did a CSA from a local organic farm and it helped us figure out what we wanted to grow for ourselves someday too.
Last fall, while I was in labour with our second baby, I ended up pulling apart garlic cloves as a distraction, while Garrett’s uncle (our organic farming guru) planted them. Before we knew it, we’d planted 700 cloves! Each one should become a garlic bulb ready for harvesting later this month, but it also means that each of those plants will produce a garlic scape.
What’s a garlic scape? It’s the curly round green stem that grows out of the centre of each plant around mid/late June until mid July. The stem will produce a flower at the end (the white part you see in the pictures above) and it must be cut off to encourage the plant to put energy into growing the garlic bulb in the ground. But you don’t discard the scape – it is one of the best parts of this plant!
Right now you’ll see this seasonal delicacy at farmers markets and sometimes in the grocery store as well. Snatch them up when you see them, because these beauties have a wonderful garlic flavour that lends itself well to creating great summer dishes. It works out nicely that our basil plants have really started to flourish lately as well, making it the perfect time to whip up a batch of Garlic Scape Pesto.
This pesto can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, and added to pasta, pizza, grilled vegetables – you name it! You can also freeze it in an ice cube tray and transfer it to a freezer bag to enjoy this bright summer sauce all year round.
I’ve been enjoying the Garlic Scape Pesto this week in a simple pasta dish. Keep in mind that this stuff is potent and a little goes a long way. I started by adding a couple tablespoons to the drained pasta and then adding a little more at a time until it reached a flavour I liked without being too overpowering.
- 1 cup chopped garlic scapes, flowers and tough ends removed (approx. 12 scapes)
- 1 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- ½ cup olive oil
- salt to taste
- Pulse first four ingredients in food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
- Slowly drizzle in olive oil while the food processor or blender is running.
- Taste and add seasoning as needed.
- Serve over pasta, on pizza or toss with warm vegetables. (A little goes a long way, so add to dishes slowly).
- Store in the a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- To enjoy fresh pesto year round, freeze extra in an ice cube tray and transfer to a freezer bag.
Pulse first four ingredients in food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
Slowly drizzle in olive oil while the food processor or blender is running. Taste and add seasoning as needed.
When I’m using it with pasta, I cook the noodles according to the package directions. Then reserve some of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Return it to the warm pot and slowly stir in a couple spoonfuls of the pesto. Taste as you go, to make sure it isn’t too strong. If you need to dilute the sauce, add a little of the reserved pasta water to thin it out. Serve with extra grated parmesan and fresh basil leaves.
If you need me, I’ll be out on the front porch enjoying some Garlic Scape Pesto in the sunshine. Here’s to fresh summer food!