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.
Be sure to taste your scapes before making the recipe – some are more potent than others.
Substitute any kind of nut you prefer. Pine nuts are traditional, but they can be pricy.
1cupgarlic scapes, sliced crosswise (about 10 to 12 scapes)
1/4cupraw sunflower seeds, pine nuts, walnuts, or other favorite nut
1/2cupextra virgin olive oil
1/4cupgrated Parmesan cheese
juice of one lemon
kosher salt to taste
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.
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.