It's garlic scape season! Garlic scapes are garlic's "flower stalks," (but produce no flowers). The wild and curly stalks appear about a month or so after the first leaves, and are culled from the plant in order to ensure a plump garlic bulb. Some people toss the scapes or compost them as waste, but the tender stalks lend a mellow garlic flavor to any dish, and are particularly handy when making a less pungent (and thus more crowd-friendly) pesto.
Since we've been harvesting basil from the U-pick garden during CSA pickup, I usually use mine up that night or the following day, to avoid losing track of it in my fridge. I picked up some local garlic scapes from the Cupboard the day before and decided these two were a match made in heaven.
You can easily add nuts to your pesto, but I wanted to add this batch to a batch of pasta with cashew cheese, so I skipped the extra nuts. If using nuts, pick something mellow like almonds, macadamia nuts, or pine nuts (skip the heartier pecans or walnuts) and process them first until they form a smooth paste. Also, I skip the cheese in my pesto so it lasts longer, but feel free to add some shredded Parmesan or asiago.
Because it's so mild, garlic scape pesto is a lovely addition to a bread and cheese plate, or as a spread on sandwiches.
Garlic Scape Pesto
1 bunch garlic scapes, tough lower green stems removed
1 bunch basil
1/2 cup (or more) olive oil
pinch sea salt
- Chop the scapes roughly and chop in the food processor until they have the texture or lumpy oatmeal (or, grind with a mortar and pestle in small batches until you achieve the same texture).
- Remove stems from basil and add leaves to the food processor along with a pinch of salt and a few TBS olive oil.
- Pulse a few times to get the mixture to move, then pulse for 10-15 seconds while adding olive oil in a thin stream until the mixture is evenly blended.
- DON'T overmix! This will cause the basil to develop an undesirable astringency.