Once asparagus season fades, garlic scapes take their place of honor in my ktichen. Garlic scapes are the flowering stalk of garlic that’s clipped off to encourage the plant to focus its energies on the bulb. I think of them as garden forage, the edible part of a plant that’s often neglected or overlooked.
Though we have scapes harvested from our own garden, I also buy masses of them from the farmers’ markets — once stored in the fridge, they keep well into the summer and lend themselves to all manner of cooking, and can also be eaten raw. Like asparagus, they can be the main event and steamed, grilled, roasted or pickled. They can also be used wherever you would garlic, but more so. I imagine them as a kind of garlicky scallion, chopped into thin rounds, and lending both flavor and color to salads, stir fries, pizzas, or folded into an omelet or frittata, to name just a few uses.
To extend my infatuation with garlic scapes, now is the time I make up a stash of garlic scape pesto to horde in my freezer. I know we’ve been heavy on the pesto recipes but I keep getting requests for this one. More of a spread than a sauce in terms of consistency, it can be used as a dip, a sandwich spread, a topping for flatbread, or smeared on a fillet of fish or chicken before or after cooking. For garlic lovers, it’s equally addicting spooned straight from the jar.
Jean’s Garlic Scape Pesto
– 1/2 lb. garlic scapes
– 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
– 1/4 to 1/3 cup pine nuts (or walnuts, sunflower seeds)
– 1 cup really good olive oil
– Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
Rinse scapes in cool water and drain. Trim off the tip and cut into small enough pieces, about 1 inch, manageble by your processor or blender. Toss everything in the processor or blender, and process until a well-blended, green-flecked paste. Makes 2–3 cups of pesto, use at will.
Note: I use the scape up through where the flower resides, and trim off the fibrous tip where the bud ends. For freezing, leave 1/2 inch headspace before sealing. Before ensconcing it in the freezer, I let the jarred pesto settle down in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. This pre-cooling lets the pesto freeze more evenly, and prevents “freezer bump” from rising up; this in turn helps to keep the glass jars from breaking under pressure.