Garlic, or rather hard neck garlic – the kind we grow here, gifts us with two harvests. The predictable and hopeful bulbs pulled from the soil in July, and about a month earlier with garlic scapes. Scapes are those whimsical curly wands that stretch their way to the sky in June, in Vermont anyway. Scapes signal to the grower that its time to stop watering the bulbs below decks, and get ready for harvest, typically about 3 weeks out from the time the scapes are long and curled.

What to do with this bonus harvest? There are several ways we use them here, including grilling them for pizza or eggs, slicing them up for soups, or pickling them for zingy cocktails, etc. But the most prolific way is probably to make pesto. After all, it IS garlic. Just whiz the scapes up in place of garlic in regular ol’ pesto recipe.

HOT TIPS:

  1. Be sure to taste your scapes before making the recipe – some are more potent than others.
  2. Substitute any kind of nut you prefer. Pine nuts are traditional, but they can be pricy.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Servings: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup garlic scapes, sliced crosswise (about 10 to 12 scapes)
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds, pine nuts, walnuts, or other favorite nut
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • juice of one lemon
  • kosher salt to taste

Instructions

  • Rough chop the scapes, place in a colander, and pour 2 cups boiling water over them to soften a little
  • Place the garlic scapes in a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds
  • Add the seeds or nuts and pulse for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Add olive oil and process on high for 15 seconds.
  • Add the Parmesan cheese and pulse until the ingredients are combined.
  • Add the basil and lemon juice, and process until as smooth as you like it.
  • Add salt to taste and serve immediately.

Notes

If you have leftovers, scoop into a small container and pour just enough olive oil over the top to create a seal between the pesto and air. Just stir the oil in the next time you dig in. The oil will prevent air from turning the pesto black on top.

Adapted from the New York Times