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Garlic Scape Pesto: Celebrating Summer Produce

When Summer rolls around I get super excited because¬†for a food lover like me, it’s all about the fun fresh produce here in New York. I wanted to share a not-so-known early summer ingredient that I am sure you will want to add to your list of summer produce must-haves. I am talking about Scapes. Garlic Scapes to be exact, which I am making into a pesto because pesto is a perfect summer sauce.

Some of my favorite foods are at their peak during the summer months, such as sweet corn, watermelon, and delicious cherries. These are typical summer eats that most anyone will add to their diet during the summer. But scapes are not as well known, and I believe that should change!

Garlic Scapes are the flower bud and stalk of the garlic plant. While garlic plants do not flower, they do produce both a stalk and bud. In cooler climates like NY, the garlic scapes are removed starting in late June or early July, just as summer has arrived, so the stalks do not keep using nutrients. This allows for the actual garlic bulb to keep all the nutrients for itself and thicken up to become a nice tight and full bulb. The scapes are actually quite pretty, as they are green and playfully curly. I have even seen them in flower arrangements.

I first found scapes at my local farmers market. Right now is the time they pop up, and the perfect time to learn how to use them! As far as the taste, you can guess that they definitely taste like garlic but are more subtle and vegetal. I personally think fresh garlic scapes taste like a cross between garlic, scallions, and fresh asparagus. Like some vegetables, when they are younger they are very tender but can get tougher as they get older and larger. Scapes can be used in either form. If they are tender, they are perfect in a salad or can be used in similar ways that you would use scallions. When they are a bit tough, they are great grilled, pickled, or in soups.

Pesto is not only easy, but its fresh, fragrant, and full of flavor. Herbs, cheese, nuts, and olive oil are the basics when it comes to pesto and the garlic scapes are a perfect addition. You can use pesto on pasta, pizza, salads, vegetables, or on bread for bruschetta. You can basically add pesto to/on anything, and this Garlic Scape Pesto totally fits the bill for delicious summer eats.

This recipe makes a significant amount of pesto, I like to make large amounts to keep and use for later. It is best to jar it and freeze it to have on hand at any time.

Garlic Scape Pesto
Makes 4-5 cups pesto
Time: 10 minutes

1-2 large bunches garlic scapes
7 basil leaves, roughly chopped
1.5 cups olive oil
3/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 heaping cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper


Taste your scape! Snap off small piece and taste for potency.

Mine are strong in garlic flavor but I like that!


Roughly chop scapes and add to food processor. Pulse 8-10 times to break up scapes, and then run for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides.


Add sunflower seeds to processor and run for 30 seconds.

You will have to stop a few times and scrape down sides for even mixing.


Add oil to processor and run for 10 seconds.

I like my pesto very thick like a spread, if you like a more pourable pesto, add more oil.


Add Parmesan, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and pulse until desired consistency.

So take the reigns on celebrating summer produce, grab some garlic scapes, and put together this pesto!

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