I went to the Raleigh farmers’ market in hopes to find cucamelons (the hunt continues…), but instead, I brought home garlic scapes.
I’m not even mad.
Up until this point I’d never even *seen* scapes in real life. I’m telling you, moving to Raleigh has opened me up to a whole new world of what I like to call “unicorn produce” and it’s nothing short of amazing. These lovely scapes are from a family-owned farm from Selma, NC, Kidd Farm. They’re automatically a winner in my books because a) they practice sustainable agriculture and b) they specialize in elephant garlic. They’ve been growing the stuff for the last 15 years and are one of very few farms in the area that grow it. Truth be told, the ginormous bulbs of elephant garlic are what caught my attention at the stand in the first place and, as I approached, I noticed the scapes. I was so excited about the scapes that I forgot to buy elephant garlic. (Womp womp.) Until next time.
Given my lack of experience with garlic scapes, I had no plan for them until I was 3/4 of the way home and it hit me: PESTO.
So how different is this from the regular ol’ pesto I trust and love?
If you love pesto as much as I do, you’re probably thinking, “Don’t mess with a good thing!” <— In most cases, I’m a huge proponent of this idea. But sometimes, when you mess with a good thing, you get MORE GOOD THINGS. And the world can’t deny more good things, amirite?
Your typical pesto will have basil, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, parmesan, and pine nuts. This recipe has most of this stuff. All I did was skip the garlic, because hi, garlic scapes; I also swapped the pine nuts for toasted raw sunflower seeds because they’re way less expensive, so it’s a cost efficient way to make pesto all day every day, and also — it just works. You still get that nutty flavor that makes pesto oh-so-toothsome.
How do you prepare garlic scapes?
Chop off the bulbs, discard them, wash the scapes, and choppity-chop. That’s really about it. It took me some research to figure out if you’re supposed to use the bulb or not, but after enough searching, I learned that the bulb doesn’t have a great texture. I was a little saddened by this since they look super cool, but I did open them up to take a look.
They remind me of hops.
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Garlic Scape Pesto
- 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds lightly toasted
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped garlic scapes bulbs discarded
- 1 cup fresh basil roughly chopped
- Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- Cracked black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese plus more, if desired
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Toasting your sunflower seeds.
- Position a small dry pan over very low heat. Add the sunflower seeds and lightly toast them, stirring often, until they begin to turn a golden color — about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Garlic Scape Pesto.
- Place the sunflower seeds, garlic scapes, basil, lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender (if using a high-powered blender, take it slow and make sure you don't completely puree the ingredients). Pulse a few times and then, with the processor running on low, gradually add the olive oil. Continue until the mixture is thoroughly blended but still had some texture to it.
- Taste, and adjust salt/pepper to your preference, if necessary.
- Transfer the pesto to a jar or container. Add the grated parmesan and stir until completely mixed in.
- If you want a looser consistency, you can add a bit more olive oil.
- Seal and refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze for up to three months.
- Slather it over your fave pizzas, sandwiches, meats, or add to pasta long with a bit of starchy pasta water for a creamy and herbaceous sauce! Or, of course, grab a cracker and just dig in :)