One springtime meal that I always look forward to is garlic scape pesto tossed into on a big ol’ bowl of pasta.
Only hard necked garlic bulbs produce these tall flower spikes. For years I grew soft neck, not to be bothered by the need to cut off the scapes. When I read Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil by Doug Oster, I discovered garlic scape pesto.
Garlic scapes are green stems and unopened flower buds of hard-neck garlic varieties.
Scapes have a mild garlic flavor and a slight sweetness, which makes them a prized addition in the kitchen. You can find them in the early summer at farmers’ markets. If you grow your own garlic, trim the scapes off before their flowers open. This forces the plant to focus on bulb.
The best way to keep scapes is to make garlic scape pesto and freeze. I freeze pesto in small 1/2 cup containers.
Garlic Scape Pesto
makes about 2 cups
10-12 garlic scapes
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Rinse scapes in cold water, then roughly chop into half-inch pieces.
Process the scapes and chopped walnuts into the food processor. Blend for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. Blend for 30 seconds, or until a fairly smooth texture is achieved.
With the machine running, slowly add olive oil, and process until thoroughly incorporated, about 20 seconds. Add the Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, and blend for another 5 seconds. Taste and adjust more salt and pepper.
Garlic scapes are available once a year for only a couple of weeks. Make batches of pesto while scapes are in season. Freeze in air-tight containers.
Pickled Garlic Scapes
Adapted from the “Dilly Beans” recipe from the Ball Blue Book® Guide to Preserving
Makes approximately 1 pint
1 bunch garlic scapes (about 10 – 12)
2 tablespoons pickling salt
1 cup vinegar (white wine vinegar or cider vinegar)
1 cup water
fresh herb sprigs (optional)
Combine salt, vinegar and water in sauce pot and bring to a boil. Keep hot.
Clean and trim garlic scapes , cut to 4 ½-inch lengths or coil scapes. Pack into clean, sterilized one-pint jar until full. Add sprigs of fresh herbs (optional).
Fill packed jar with vinegar. Remove air bubbles with a chop stick. Cover, allow to cool, and refrigerate. Wait at least 24 hours to develop flavors.
Try one of the coiled picked garlic scapes on a steak sandwich. When the scapes are gone, mix the vinegar with olive oil for a garlicky vinaigrette.
Suggested herbs: dill, oregano or thyme.