Garlic Scape Pesto



Seems I’ve been talking a lot about garlic scapes over the past few years. Here, here and here for example.  I’ve shown you how to do everything from wearing them as a fashion accessory to creating flower arrangements with them.

What I *haven’t* shown you  is how to cook them.  So today I shall rectify that.  Yes.  I think of the word rectum when I see “rectify” too. It’s because we’re immature.


featureI’ll start with a refresher on what a garlic scape is.  Each garlic plant grows one garlic scape.  It’s a round stem that grows from the centre of the hardneck garlic.  In the early summer it shoots up forming a curly cue form the middle of the plant leaves. It has a small flower head on the end which, if left to its own devices will form a big flower.

BEFORE the scape turns into a flower you should cut the scape off of your garlic plant.  For one thing because it allows the plant to distribute its energy to growing the bulb as opposed to the flower.  And for another thing because you can eat those scapes.  They’re a delicacy that only comes once a year for a very short period of time.  Like fiddleheads or ramps.  Or a really funny Saturday Night Live skit.

I’ve been using scapes for 2 things in particular this season.  My favourite being, garlic scape pesto.  The other thing I’ll tell you about in a post later this week.

Garlic Scape Pesto

A summery version of pesto made with garlic scapes and lemon juice.
5 from 1 vote
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Author: Karen


  • 1 cup rough chopped garlic scapes apx. 10 scapes
  • 1/2 cup basil
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 lemon juice & zest
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil


  • Toast pine nuts in a dry pan over medium/low heat for a few minutes.  Toss them and turn them until they just start to brown.
  • Pulse first 7 ingredients in food processor or blender (everything but the oil) until everything is chopped up.
  • Slowly drizzle in oil with processor or blender running.
  • Serve over linguine. (you can heat your pesto in a pan first if you like)


If you want a brighter more citrusy pesto, use a whole lemon.
Leftover pesto can be frozen in an ice cube tray then transferred to a freezer bag and saved for a taste of summer in the middle of a frosty winter.




  1. Marti says:

    WoooooOOOoooo!!! Lookit you! You have a “print this” button? Is that new? I haven’t seen that before… and I’ve looked! That’s very cool.

    When is my new favorite soup recipe coming… should I be collecting anything in advance? Like… parmesan rinds or old bits of french bread or dirty socks?

    • Karen says:

      Not new! But I haven’t gone back and added it to all of my food posts. It may be a while for the new soup post. 🙁 It’s a squash soup so I’ve decided to probably leave it until the fall. I can recommend you make my broccoli soup though. Head of broccoli, cover with chicken stock, cook until tender, puree in blender. Salt and pepper … add some grated cheese, top with croutons. The recipe’s on here somewhere. Had it tonight! ~ karen

      • Marti says:

        So we’re talking a winter squash recipe, then?

        Hmmm, I was hoping this would be a summery, broth-based soup. I will try to remember to pick up some broccoli next trip to Costco.

        Any chance you’ve ever seen a tasty zucchini or yellow squash soup? No? We need to remedy that, Karen. Think how famous your blog would be if you could come up with a great zucchini soup recipe? All the honors, awards, fame and lauding your blog would receive.

        The lauding alone would be loquacious and loverly!

  2. Jill says:

    Yet another reason to be sad I didn’t get my garlic planted this year. That looks absolutely scrumptious!

    Using your spiffy “Print This” button to save for *next* year’s garlic crop…

  3. And they are so beautiful in a completely cool, trendy alien sort of way (or whatever the current words for cool and trendy are)

  4. Barbie says:

    LOL Rectify always reminds me of rectum too! My daughter insists that we RE NAME the plant growing in my flower bed which is called Clematis! Need I say why?

    PS: Voles ate most of my garlic already! 🙁 I am heartbroken! They are on there way to the potatoes and beets and carrots and onions now! HELP!

  5. JBess says:

    Have you tried grilling the scapes? A little olive oil, salt n pepper… better than french fries! Swear to god. When I first discovered this I couldn’t stop eating them.

    Oh wait- now I see the bit about the unprecedented weekend post… 🙂 Of course you’ve grilled scapes!

  6. zuccini and brie soup is lovely!

  7. Elle Bee says:

    Someone I know made thisa for dinner last night – but she used almonds…must have found it on Pinterest. Yours sounds much taster.

    • Karen says:

      Yes, I’d steer clear of almonds when making pesto if I were you. Almonds are great and all, but if it doesn’t have pine nuts it isn’t pesto! ~ karen

      • Shauna says:

        And, people allergic to nuts can still eat it. I didn’t know, but apparently a lot of people make pesto with walnuts. A friend who is allergic to nuts asked if mine had walnuts in it or pine nuts and was very pleased when they found out it was pine nuts because they could eat it.

  8. Elle Bee says:

    *this. That’s me trying to sound Italian. 🙂
    And you know I’m going to be thinking it’s Monday on the weekend if you post!

  9. karol says:

    “So today I shall rectify that. Yes. I think of the word rectum when I see “rectify” too. It’s because we’re immature.”
    OMG,LOL, the whole reason I read your blog. You make me smile out loud.
    (Yes, that’s what I took away from your post today)

  10. Had to pin this. I am definitely going to try this one as I am growing basil this year!

  11. Jasper says:

    You didn’t find that green stuff in your compost did you.? lol Squash, I don’t like green food.

  12. Patti says:

    You are perfect! My scapes came in last weekend and we used some with veggies on the grill, but I’ve got loads more and we were just talking this morning about how we have a hankering for pesto. Voila! Karen wins at life again!

  13. Kitten Caboodle says:

    Ooh, this sounds good. I wonder if you would get a similar flavor with Chinese garlic chives? Y’know, for those of us who don’t want to wait a year for scapes.

  14. Erica O says:

    Oh my gosh, this is crazy timely.
    Also, hi. I’m Erica. I’m stalking you(r blog) because I have decided I need you to be my neighbor because you seem to be exactly the type of neighbor I want and we’ve got meth heads next door, instead.
    This is SO timely because: I just trimmed my scapes (which sounds dirty) on Sunday and brought them all in to my co-worker whose son is a chef and whose daughter is a gourmande (the “e” makes it feminine) and they all love scapes whereas I’m too lazy to do anything but stir fry them. I told my mom that if she doesn’t want her scapes, I have a buyer (well, if giving things to people is like having a buyer) who will take them so that she doesn’t have baby garlics in the compost pile every year and my mom said, “What are you talking about?” which alarmed me because she’s the one who got me planting garlic in the first place.
    And NOW I can send her this blog post and it will explain everything AND will prove I wasn’t making stuff up to fool her like I usually do.
    I guess I’ll have to get her to use a computer…and then the internet…first, but in the end, it will all work out.
    So thank you for helping me with my cause, the one I didn’t even know I had until just now.

    • Karen says:

      Erica – Your neighbours sound fun. Way more entertaining than me. ~ karen

      • Erica O says:

        Dangerous, yes. Entertaining…only when they have drunken fights at 2:53 am in the street. But their invasive acacias are taking over my yard and I’ll bet you don’t let your acacias loose on the neighborhood.

  15. mia pratt says:

    Scape…that reminds me of altering my dietscape…or my scape of mind…because I’m immature too and like to make up fake food names n’ stuff. And so according to my porculations, this pesto isn’t fattening enough so I’l pour some into a fancy little plate and shove hot Italian bread into it, then lick up the last drop before laying down on the couch with a satisfied happy-tummy smile in an altered scape of mind<:}

  16. I remembered your post from last year and cut off my scapes on the weekend, but didn’t know what to do with them. Now I do. Thanks!

  17. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I’m hungry do this to me a lot..Now go away..

  18. Shauna says:

    Your entire blog is like a pinterest ‘save this’ button for me.

  19. susan says:

    Planned on making garlic scape pesto soon, and just had to find the recipe I liked! So, thanks! I picked lime basil, though, and I think that should be good too….

    • Karen says:

      I’m sure it will be good. A bit different, but still good. I wouldn’t add the lemon juice though. Lime basil REALLY tastes like lime, so that’ll give you the brightness in the recipe you’re looking for. Let me know how it was. ~ karen!

      • susan says:

        Karen, it was GREAT! I added some lime juice (but mmmmaybe about 1/2 lime, if that) and the toasted pine nuts made a huge difference in taste – I had never toasted them before. YUM! Had it with grilled chicken and zucchini (also great grilled).

        Again, thanks for the recipe! It was wonderful!

        • Karen says:

          I’m glad to hear it Susan! I’ve been stealing garlic scapes from wherever I can find them and making this recipe and freezing it so I’ll have access to it all winter. 😉 ~ karen

  20. marilyn says:

    karn the recipe sounds great but i also need to know if you want a grow light thingy to start seeds in the is about three tiers high and is complete with the lights.its not overly big , a friend is getting rid pf it. it works. let me know ok, sorry i cant get a hold of you i lost your #

  21. Kelly says:

    Made a quadruple batch to freeze and WOW is it spicy hot! My garlic is super spicy hot too, but I wasn’t expecting the scapes to be like that too. I’ll have to see if putting on pasta calms it down.

    • Karen says:

      Super spicy hot, lol? Really? I’ve never noticed mine to be like that! Mind you, I can eat raw jalapeno peppers so … I’m not the best judge. But yes, it will mellow out after time in the freezer. 🙂 ~ karen!

    • brenda says:

      yes it’s got a definite zip … no pepper for me

  22. Larry says:

    I have scape pesto once before and they are wonderful. We make other types pesto but don’t add the cheese to the mixture until we use it. We found that the mixture without cheese will last in the freezer or refrigerator almost forever since their is no cheese. The cheese goes rancid and runins the batch

  23. brenda says:

    you got really fancy with your scape recipe … I wondered if adding basil would be a good thing … but lemon and especially lemon zest – that thing going on here … wOwzer … I made mine with just oil and salt (because I’m lazy) so I am going to squeeze a lemon on the pasta and grate some zest over it … and throw some toasted nuts on it … and some cheese … and pour some wine and lock my doors

  24. I’m licking this pesto off the spoon. The lemon is key. I was going to pickle some delightfully knotted garlic scapes, but I’m probably just going to throw them in the food processor instead.

    • Karen says:

      The lemon makes it. 🙂 If you have enough to freeze a bunch, save it for January. It’ll taste like summer! ~ karen

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