Tis the Season for Garlic Scape Pesto

I’ll confess that I didn’t know much about garlic scapes until a few years ago, when I started growing a lot of different varieties of hardneck garlic. For those who aren’t familiar with the growing habits of garlic, a month or so before the bulbs are ready for harvesting the hardneck varieties send up a flower shoot. A garlic scape is the flower stalk that coils out of the top of the garlic plant.


hardneck garlic scape (click on any image to enlarge)

Conventional wisdom says it is best to remove the scape, so the garlic plant can direct all of its energy into making a big fat bulb, instead of trying to flower. But wise cooks don’t just throw those flower stalks away. They are a real culinary treat – a once a year harvest that is eagerly awaited by many (including me), much like the first spears of asparagus in spring.

harvest of garlic scapes

Garlic scapes can be used in many different ways. They can be chopped up and added to any recipe where a garlicky flavor is desired. They can be grilled or sauteed by themselves for a side dish – cooking mellows the flavor considerably. But my favorite thing to do with garlic scapes is to make pesto.

bowl of Garlic Scape Pesto

This pesto is wonderful in pasta dishes, on flatbreads like pizza and foccacia, and on top of a slice of good, hearty bread. If you don’t grow garlic, the scapes can often be found this time of year at farmer’s markets. I can think of no substitutes – it just wouldn’t be Garlic Scape Pesto without the garlic scapes!


Garlic Scape Pesto Print This Recipe Print This Recipe
Adapted from several recipes

1 cup garlic scapes, chopped into 1″ pieces (about 4.5 ounces)
1/2 cup olive oil, extra virgin
1/3 cup walnuts
1 dash salt
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Place all ingredients except cheese in food processor. Process to desired consistency, using short bursts.

2. Stir in cheese.

3. Store in airtight container. To help preserve the pesto, cover the top of the pesto with a layer of olive oil.

4. The pesto keeps for a week in the refrigerator, or 6 months in the freezer.

Servings: 20 (serving size 1 tbsp)
Yield: 1-1/4 cup

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 78 calories, 63 calories from fat, 7.2g total fat, 1.5mg cholesterol, 34.6mg sodium, 10.7mg potassium, 2.6g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 1.4g protein, 32.9mg calcium, 1.1g saturated fat.

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16 Responses to Tis the Season for Garlic Scape Pesto

  1. Daphne says:

    Yum. I had scapes today in a stirfry. It was oh so good. Scape season is so short and there is never an abundance since you never grow more garlic than you use in a year, so it does rank up there as one of those fleeting treats.

    • Villager says:

      They are fleeting, for sure. I’m going to make some of your garlic scape salad dressing before they’re all gone!

  2. GrafixMuse says:

    I love garlic scapes. After reading several garden blogs to the south of me experiencing a garlic scape harvest, I inspected my garlic carefully. So far there are not scapes, but I will be watching them carefully.

    • Villager says:

      Mine appeared almost overnight. Well, that’s the way it seemed. They do seem to spring out pretty quickly.

  3. Jody says:

    Your post is my first taste of garlic scape. And as great a taste as it is, to bad it’s only a vicarious one. We didn’t plant garlic this year. Maybe next year.

    • Villager says:

      The hardneck types are worth growing for the bulbs as well as the scapes! The bulbs don’t keep as long, but I believe they have more flavor.

  4. bunkie says:

    last year was the first time i made garlic scape pesto and was hooked! just used up the last batch in the freezer from last year. still waiting for the scapes to appear here in our garden. everything is very late this year! garlic scape salad dressing? sounds yummy!

  5. Wilderness says:

    Villager I so enjoy reading your blog. I am working on getting mine a better quality than it is now but with gardening this time a year I don’t have the time.

    I am still hooked on your bread making. My Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes book finally arrived about 2 weeks ago and I finally got to use it last night. Made the deli rye bread dough and baked up a loaf this morning. It is the best rye I have ever made and is the closest I have ever found to a bread I used to buy in a deli some 48 years ago. I have carried that bread flavor and texture in my head every since.

    I grew garlic last year but a softneck variety that didn’t do very well and didn’t plant any new last fall. May need to look into it again this fall but have converted that entire bed into onions this year including Egyptian walking onions so may see if I can find another spot for garlic.

    • Villager says:

      It is tough to find time to blog sometimes! We have baked breads from the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes and the Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes books. The no-knead breads are an easy way to get homemade bread on the table with a minimum of time and effort.

  6. LynnS says:

    I plan to make a Scape pesto tomorrow. Our evening meal was a quiche w/ the last of our Spring spinach.

    This year, Im going to dehydrate some of the scapes since there are so many. Have you done that before?

    (I am shamefully behind on blog reading and see I have missed many of your great posts!)

  7. Christina says:

    I just finished the last of my garlic scapes on my late-harvest varieties in dinner tonight. So yummy, and yes, a seasonal and wonderful treat. I’ve got most of my garlic harvested, with just three or four varieties left. The Japanese you sent me grew well. It is a pretty garlic–I haven’t had a chance to taste it yet. Thank you once again for that trade!

  8. I just picked up some garlic scapes (along with some fiddlehead ferns) at our local food co-op last night, so I’m eager to try out your pesto recipe – sounds perfect! I’ve had scapes before – chopped and sauteed with some other veggies in pasta – but the pesto idea sounds divine…I’m actually getting hungry just thinking about it!

    Thanks for sharing this one!

    Oh – Wildnerness – the Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes book is great! I stumbled across it last year and just love it.

  9. Deb says:

    I had never heard or garlic scapes before … had to Google them and they sound divine. I was gifted with some hardneck garlic and planted it in April … any idea of when I might see some scapes?

    Thanks, Deb

  10. Thanks for the easily printable recipe! I had never considered garlic scape pesto until I read about it on Mimi’s blog last week (Gardening in the Boroughs of NY). I’ve printed it out for next year since this year’s scapes are all used. I think the pesto will be a great addition to all the things you mentioned.

  11. Pingback: Garlic Scape Pesto! (No vampires in our house!) « Red Garden Clogs

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