Garlic Scapes

For as long as I’ve been going to the farmer’s market (about five years now), I always eye garlic scapes with skepticism and fear. These tangly, green specimens look like a cross between a plant and an octopus. Even Craig, who loves octopi, approached the garlic scapes I brought home this weekend with great dread and apprehension….

Don’t worry, though, gentle reader: garlic scapes aren’t dangerous as you might think they are. In fact, they’re pretty wonderful once you get to know them.

Essentially, they are the plant that grows out of the garlic you normally buy (garlic being a bulb and all). Have you ever left garlic out for a few weeks and had a green stalk shoot up? Well that, I believe, is a garlic scape.

That explains what it is, but the next question is: how to use it?

Enter Dorie Greenspan. Dorie posted a recipe for “garlic scape pesto” last week that made the rounds and offered a simple, satisfying solution to the garlic scape problem. Simply grind them up with almonds, Parmesan, olive oil and sea salt and you’ve got a pesto.

I didn’t have any almonds last night when I made dinner, but I did have pine nuts which are a pretty traditional pesto ingredient. I also, unfortunately, don’t have a working food processor. I do have a hand blender, though, so I made do by chopping one bunch of garlic scapes up with a knife and throwing them in a bowl with toasted pine nuts, grated Parmesan, salt and a few glugs of olive oil.


It took some elbow grease to get the hand blender moving all around and I had to add more and more olive oil to make it less pasty. I also had salted water boiling and after adding the spaghetti, I took a ladleful of the hot water and added it to the pesto to smooth it out. That really worked well:


Pesto is a really forgiving sauce; you just taste as you go and if it needs more salt, more cheese, more oil, you adjust it accordingly. I dipped my finger in to check it out and YOWZA! A normal pesto has basil and garlic, but here you get the best of both in one plant. It’s fresh-tasting, but it also has a garlicky kick. And so easy! I’m a garlic scape convert.

When the spaghetti was cooked, I tossed it with the pesto and there it was: a quick and tasty dinner.


Even Craig could let go of his bad garlic scape encounter to enjoy this delicious dinner. Thanks, Dorie, for demystifying garlic scapes! Next up? White Bean and Garlic Scapes Dip from The New York Times.

Let's dish!

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