Garlic growers usually remove the garlic flower bud, the scape, before it opens. This forces plant growth back into bulb production rather than into flower production. And since we grow garlic for the blub, not the flower, I snap the scapes off my garlic too by just snapping the scape off the plant, usually just below the curlicue.
|Harvested Garlic Scapes|
But whether we have a little or a lot of scapes, we need to do something with them. My favorite thing to do is to turn them into pesto. If I had more scapes this year I would also have pickled some and used them fresh in cooking.
A traditional pesto recipe is:
2 cups basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
For a garlic scape pesto there are a variety of recipes. Some using basil and some not. The most basic garlic scape pesto recipe uses scapes in place of garlic cloves, from 1/2 cup to 1 cup of chopped scapes in place of the garlic cloves. Scapes taste like garlic; surprise, surprise I know.
But since I rarely follow a traditional recipes (and I never ever have pine nuts in my pantry), my scape and basil pesto recipe is:
1 - 2 cups chopped garlic scapes (20 - 30 scapes)
2 cups basil leaves (about two large fistfuls of fresh leaves)
1/2 - 1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
This recipe has a lot of bite to it. I think the vinegar balances nicely with the spiciness.
To start, put whole (washed and dried) scapes into a food processer to chop coarsely.
|Adding the basil to the chopped scapes|
You may need to add the basil in small amounts. This is especially true with my rather small food processer. After a few additions of the basil, the green mixture no longer pulses well. This is when I start adding the olive oil. Drizzle some of the olive oil in along with each addition of basil and pulse a few times. Once all the olive oil and basil is added, run the food processer until the mixture has the consistency of a thin paste. You don't want to be able to see chunks of scape or basil.
Next I add in all the grated cheese, balsamic vinegar, and salt.
Note, depending upon your taste you may want to add the vinegar in a little at a time to suit your own taste or skip it all together for a more traditional pesto. I often add more than the 1/4 cup.
Another note, I grate my own cheese with a micro planer for pesto. It is so much better tasting than the pre-grated stuff in the green can if you know what I mean. And since pesto is not cooked, the flavor of each ingredient is very important.
Pulse the pesto until thoroughly mix. Then taste test. If the pesto is too spicy or sour for your liking, add more cheese. Remember the Pecorino Romano is very salty.
|Ready to Use|
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