whole food ~ well made

garlic scape pesto overhead

Great Scapes for Pesto

I am up to my eyebrows in garlic scapes. They are coming out of my ears.

And I appreciate the generosity of everyone who has proffered the flowering shoots from their garlic plants. But I can honestly say that I have a bounty.

I’m not the only one: a sign on the highway reads “Garlic scapes $3 per dozen.”

Where Scapes Come From

Strangely, the garlic cloves I planted last fall that overwintered in my garden bed did not sent out the twisting coils of blossoms. This is the garlic’s attempt to flower and reproduce.

Gardeners clips these blossoms to redirect the energy back into the bulb and produce the plumpest heads of garlic.

As the bags of garlic scapes landed on my doorstep in bags and arrived in my CSA box, I began to worry. Were my garlic bulbs doing okay? Were they rotting in the ground?

garlic scape

I pondered the problem while making rounds of garlic scape pesto until last evening I could not take the suspense any longer.

In my garden I selected the largest stalk of the bunch and pulled, fearing the worst. Rot.

Instead, I unearthed a plump and healthy fully formed head of garlic. Not rotted at all, but firm and so very fragrant. Lovingly, I put them in a safe place to dry and cure for winter.

I love garlic scapes for their whimsical form, the lovely scent, for being nature’s reminder that what is useful is beautiful. And how in nature, nothing is wasted. Let’s all imitate nature.

Garlic Scapes for Pesto

This is a terrible time of year for garlic. Most of my heads have either rotted or sprouted, which makes the garlic bitter. But it’s a terrific time for scapes–obviously.

I used to chop the scapes and saute them, but like so many others I’ve discovered how it makes the most wonderful pesto.

garlic scape pesto over spaghetti squash

Here are just some of the uses for this pungent pesto:

  • It’s a sauce for grilled steak, boiled potatoes or spaghetti squash.
  • It’s a dip for all those breakfast radishes we need to eat and the first carrots of the season. Benjamin licked some right off the spoon.
  • Or try this: grill flatbreads, them smear them with this pesto and top with lightly dress salad greens; fold over and eat without a plate or utensil.

What’s your favorite way to use it?

Best Uses for Scapes

The secret, I think, to using scapes well is to purée them very well and to blend their garlicky essence into other ingredients.

This is better, to me, than chewing them cooked in a quiche or stir-fry where their pungency can burn a bit.

I took those bundles of curling shoots, holding one another like a barrel of monkeys and I stuffed my food processor full. I turned on the machine and waited for them to give in.

garlic scape bundles

The girls walked into the kitchen holding their ears. It did take a while for those sturdy scapes to grind down into something resembling a smooth paste.{So now I make sure to chop them in advance.}

Into jars they are going for another season when I am not so flush.

I will make them into more pesto and soup, dip and dressing.

I will marry them with cloves from those garlic bulbs, the beginning and the end of a single cycle.



and become a forager


Garlic Scape Pesto

Pesto is one of the very best uses for a bundle of garlic scapes (also known as green garlic). It makes a pungent sauce to use on grilled vegetables, fish or chicken and many other uses. Or, toss it with your favorite pasta, zoodles or baked spaghetti squash. If you have some tender fresh herbs, such as basil or parsley, or a small amount of spinach of Asian greens, blend them up in this pesto. 
Makes 1/2 cup
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Author Lynne Curry


  • 1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes , blossom ends trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts substitute walnuts or pistachios
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice optional


  • Put the garlic scapes, pine nuts and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process, scraping down the bowl once or twice, until it forms a fairly smooth paste. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Add the olive oil and lemon juice, if using. Process for 15 seconds just until blended. Taste for salt and lemon juice to suit your taste.
  • Transfer into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze for up to 3 months.

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