This easy garlic scape pesto is perfect for spring and summer! The best way to use fresh garlic scapes from the farmers’ market. Bright, bold, and very garlicky. Ready in under 10 minutes. Vegan.
This easy garlic scape pesto recipe is our summertime secret weapon.
Use a scoop of this pesto as a shortcut where you would normally use minced garlic! It's great in dressings, marinades, savory dishes, and drizzled over fried eggs or roasted veggies.
What are garlic scapes?
Garlic scapes are the flower bud and curly stem of a hardneck garlic plant. They shoot up in late spring to early summer, depending on your location. Scapes are harvested so the plant can send its energy into making a better tasting garlic bulb, rather than a flower.
Garlic scapes are vibrantly green, and have a texture similar to green beans or asparagus stalks. Their flavor will vary depending on the climate and time of year where they were grown.
Like garlic and onions, scapes have a bit of a bite to them - they can even make your eyes water like an onion!
Garlic scapes are special because of their short growing season. So when you see them pop up at your local farmer’s market, definitely scoop some up!
Read more about garlic scapes in this Farmer’s Almanac article.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Fresh garlic scapes - You will need about 250 grams, or ½ a pound (you can eyeball this; the recipe is very forgiving). Trim the ends and bulbs off of the scapes as these pieces can be a bit tough and stringy. If you happen to have more scapes than you need, make a double batch! This pesto freezes beautifully.
- Good quality olive oil - About ½ cup, though you might not need it all. Make sure the label says extra virgin olive oil. (We're really loving EXAU olive oils lately!)
- Extras - We kept this garlic scape pesto simple so you can use it in just about anything, but it's a great blank canvas for extra flavor! Add a handful of parmesan cheese or pecorino romano for a cheesy spin. Use nuts like almonds, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, or walnuts to thicken the pesto. For extra strong tasting scapes, balance out the flavors by adding in fresh herbs like basil leaves or parsley. Make it spicy with red pepper flakes.
Our Basic Order of Operations
- Prep the scapes. Trim off both the bulbous and stem ends (they tend to be woody and stringy). Cut the garlic scapes into quarters to help them blend more quickly and easily.
- Add the raw scapes to a food processor with a generous pinch of salt. Pop the lid on and pulse a few times.
- With the food processor running, stream olive oil into the bowl a little at a time until you have a smooth sauce. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go. You can keep it as thick or thin as you like.
How to use garlic scape pesto
Use garlic scape pesto anywhere you would use minced garlic cloves. This pesto typically tastes like very strong raw garlic with a smidge of onion-y flavor: It’s an easy way to add a pop of great garlic flavor to any dish! Here are some delicious ways to use it.
- Use it as a base for a fried egg. YUM.
- Add a scoop of this pesto in place of minced garlic when sautéing vegetables.
- Mix some into salad dressing or vinaigrette.
- Use it in a marinade for chicken or fish.
- Make a garlic scape compound butter.
- Smear some on fresh bread or use it to make garlic bread.
- Use it on pizzas (we love scape pesto on this pesto chicken pizza with homemade wheat crust, or on a springy pizza with pea shoots!)
A Few Tips
- Garlic scape season is short, so grab some whenever you see them available at your local markets.
- Compost your scape scraps or use them in homemade stock!
- Add the pesto into ice cube trays to freeze, then store them in a freezer bag once frozen. Pop out a cube or two when you are ready to use! Freezing this pesto is a great way to extend the scape season.
- Add sweetness (honey, agave syrup, maple syrup) or acidity (lemon juice, lime juice, apple cider vinegar) to the pesto to balance out any bitterness.
A Few FAQs
Store this pesto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Store it in the freezer for up to three months.
Scapes can vary in flavor depending on the region they are grown and the time they are picked. To make the garlic scape pesto less pungent or bitter, blend in some fresh herbs with it. You can also try adding a dash of honey to balance out the bitter flavor with sweetness, or some acidity with lemon juice.
More pesto recipes:
- Cilantro Pesto
- Easy Arugula Pesto
- Creamy Pea and Pesto Tortellini
- 5 Minute Pea Pesto
- Kale and Basil Pesto Caprese Pasta Salad
Video: How to make garlic scape pesto
Garlic Scape Pesto
- Prep Time: 5 min
- Cook Time: 1 min
- Total Time: 6 minutes
- Yield: 1 ½ cups 1x
- Category: Sauce
- Cuisine: Italian-American
- Diet: Vegan
This easy garlic scape pesto is packed with flavor and perfect for summer! Use it in place of minced garlic in your favorite recipes.
- 250 grams (about ½ pound) fresh garlic scapes, ends and bulbs trimmed off (you can eyeball this - it's 3-4 big handfuls of scapes!)
- Kosher salt to taste
- ½ cup good quality olive oil (you might not need it all)
- Place trimmed garlic scapes and a generous pinch of kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor. Put the lid on and pulse a few times to break everything up.
- With the food processor running, stream olive oil into the bowl a little at a time until you have a smooth pesto. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go.
- Store pesto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
We kept this scape pesto very simple so you can use it in just about anything, but you can add extra flavors here if you like! Blend in a handful of parmesan cheese, some almonds or pistachios, or fresh herbs like basil, parsley, and dill for a more robust sauce.
Garlic scapes have a bite to them, and their flavor will vary quite a bit depending on the climate and time of year where they were grown! This pesto typically tastes like very strong raw garlic with a smidge of onion-y flavor. Like onions, scapes can also make your eyes water.
Use garlic scape pesto anywhere you would use minced garlic (when sauteeing veggies, mixing salad dressings, etc). It’s also delicious as a base to fry an egg in, or as part of a marinade for chicken or fish.
- Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon
- Calories: 56
- Sugar: 0.1 g
- Sodium: 53.4 mg
- Fat: 4.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 3.4 g
- Protein: 0.7 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: pesto, summer, farmer's market
I wish garlic scapes were in season year round, but I guess then they wouldn't be as special. This pesto is SO GOOD I could drink it. Looking forward to making it again next summer.
Team Life As A Strawberry
YES! We wish that too!