Some time around early June my garlic sent up these tall curly cues. Honestly, I didn’t know what to do with them and thought that maybe the would flower or something. A friend of mine told me that the garlic would do this but for some reason I was completely unprepared. He also said that you could use them like scallions and that they had a delicious mild flavor; that they could be used in pesto, grilled, frozen, or any other and sundry kitchen uses. I certainly believed him, I was just skeptical about how much work I wanted to go through to use these garlic curly cues.
And then I realized that what I had weren’t just weird curly cues growing out of my garlic plants. I had a secret treasure!
Around early June, hard necked varieties of garlic produce garlic scapes. And they’re amazing. They’re maybe the most amazing thing that I’ve ever grown before. First, they’re awesome looking. And second, they are truly the best tasting thing that I’ve ever grown before. The flavor is amazingly delicate and perfectly delicious. If you ever see a bundle of them at the farmer’s market, snatch them up. But I’d recommend playing it cool so that the word doesn’t get out too quickly. Otherwise, if you let people on to our secret they’ll become the hottest commodity!
What I’m going to tell you next is going to be a bit shocking, so I think you should sit down.
Make pesto with them. But here’s the thing… Replace the basil with garlic scapes. I know…. I know…. I just blew your mind a little bit there. I’ll give you a minute to think about it. OK, are we good now? Still not OK? Tell me, have I ever led you astray about food? No. Now that we’ve gotten this all cleared up we can proceed. I promise you, we’ll get through this together.
When I saw the recipes and they all had (seemingly mistakenly) omitted basil all together and just contained garlic capes I was sure that there had been some terrible error. But I was willing to give it a go. After all, the articles I’d read said that you needed to get those garlic scapes out of your garden so that they didn’t suck all the important nutrients away from your garlic bulb. So I cut them. And since I’d read fantastic things about them I simply could not relegate them to the compost pile. But really…. pesto without basil??? I looked it up in my Italian/English dictionary; the definition of pesto is, “sauce made with basil, garlic, cheese and oil.” See. You need basil, right?
Wrong. I’m telling you, folks, you don’t need it. Maybe it won’t by “definition” be pesto, but it will certainly be awesome. And it will kind of look like pesto. But it will most certainly taste better than pesto. Yes, I said it…. better than pesto.
So, without further ado… the Garlic Scape Pesto recipe (with the MyNeChimKi tweaks, of course):
- 3/4 c. garlic scapes chopped into 1/4 inch rounds
- 1/4 c. toasted almonds (heaping)
- 1/2 c. grated parmesan reggiano cheese
- zest and juice of 1/2 lemon (plus some)
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- freshly grated pepper
- 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
- Chop your garlic scapes into 1/4 inch rounds. Only use the tender portions and don't use the "bulb" at the end.
- Blanch the garlic scape rounds for 1 minute and then shock them.
- In a food processor, process the blanched and shocked garlic scapes, toasted almonds, lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper, and cheese until finely chopped.
- With the food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil until the pest is smooth. (You may end up using a tad more or a tad less than the recipe calls for... just use your best judgement).