Presto! Garlic-scape pesto

Carol Pope whips up a quick batch for a delicious pasta dinner

Credit: Carol Pope

Presto pesto!

Inspired by garden-to-kitchen wizard Sharon Hanna’s suggestion (in GardenWise magazine’s new summer issue) that we all make garlic-scape pesto, I decided to whip some up for dinner. I didn’t have the lime juice Sharon suggested for her recipe, so I plodded ahead with my own adaptation.




garlic scapeA garlic scape perfect for pesto.

chopped garlic scapes for pesto sauce
Chopped for the food processor.

We added the leaves from four of our greenhouse-grown “basil bins.”

Great Scape Pesto


1. All the scapes in my garlic bed, using only the soft part of the stems cut up into one-inch bits – about a pound

2. About a cup of pine nuts

3. The leaves from four home-grown “tubs” of basil, so about 4 cups

4. As much good Extra Virgin olive oil as it takes to make it all purée into a perfect paste in the food processor – around one cup

5. Sea salt (about half a teaspoon) – add at the end to taste

Everything was tossed into the blender a bit at a time, and the result was a very large bowl of delicious pesto sauce – enough for several dinners.

The trick I find with pesto sauce is to never heat it – just toss with fresh hot pasta noodles and then add a good sprinkling of grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese along with a few pine nuts and basil leaves if you have them on hand. This recipe received unanimous thumbs-up from my family.

Tips on using garlic scapes

Used while they are still new and curly, garlic scapes – the stem that leads to newly developing seedhead – can also be snipped or snapped off for salads, sautés, stirfries, soups, omelettes or any other dish that would benefit from a tasty, mildly garlic-flavoured green. Once your scapes have straightened out, it’s too late to harvest them so pluck them fast when they have formed just one loop or two.

Garlic scapes harvest
Here’s a photo of my scape harvest – some of these were snapped off later farther up the stem to ensure only the soft parts were puréed. The harder portions were frozen for future use in the soup stock pot (along with the tough parts of kale, chard, parsley and celery stems – virtually all the greens from our garden not tender enough to eat are boiled into soup stock).