I first learned about garlic scapes this time last year when I was doing a brief stint on a permaculture farm in the middle of New Hampshire. Garlic was a huge crop there and we pickled, stir fried, and pesto-ized countless bushels of scapes in the month of June. Before that, I'd never even heard of them. Scapes are the flowering stalk of the garlic plant, which farmers snip off to encourage the plant to put its energy down into the ground, thereby growing a fat bulb, rather than a small bulb and a smelly flower. Definitely milder and more subtle than garlic cloves, they still pack a lot of flavour. You probably won't find them at the grocery store, but they're all over the place at the farmer's market.
This pesto recipe is a basic starting point. Feel free to play from here; add additional herbs, change up the nuts/seeds, throw in some spinach. Lately I've been learning more about the benefits of various oils, and while I still don't know enough to give you a big oil lecture, what I can say is that pestos and dressings are great ways to get some healthy oils into your diet. These would include flaxseed oil, hemp oil, and pumpkin seed oil. For this pesto I used half flax and half olive. These are oils that you always want to get "first cold pressed," and you definitely don't want to heat them. If you're curious, you can read more about flaxseed oil here. If you don't have it in your pantry yet, get some! Or just use a high quality olive oil.
Fresh Garlic Scapes: 3/4 pound, give or take
Pumpkin or Sunflower seeds (or a mix of the two): 1/2 cup
Sea Salt: 1 tsp
Flaxseed Oil: 4 Tbsp
Olive Oil: 4 Tbsp
- Start by washing and trimming the scapes. You'll need to trim off the very tip top, which is a bit grassy and hard to process. Chances are good that the farmer/harverster will have cut off the woody bottom, but if the bottom seems overly coarse, chop that off too. Then rough chop the remainder in order to make your food processor's job easier.
- Grind the seeds and salt to a fine powder in the bowl of your food processor.
- Add scapes and oil and process until it's at the consistency that you like it. I leave mine a bit chunky.
- Serving ideas: Straight up as a dip / On pasta or pizza / As a spread for sandwiches / Stirred into polenta...
Thanks D Acres, for all that you taught me.