Quick & Fresh Garlic Scape Pesto

By Amanda Paa – Updated June 24, 2024
5 from 2 votes
Meet my new favorite condiment, Garlic Scape Pesto! It's full of spicy, garlicky, herby flavor making for an absolutely delicious spread. This recipe uses with both garlic scapes and basil for balance and is brightened by fresh lemon juice. Instead of using pine nuts, this Garlic Scape Pesto is made with cashews to make it more affordable. Use it on sandwiches, pizza, as a dipping sauce for proteins, atop hummus, or swirled into a soup.
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garlic scape pesto in a glass jar with label on it.

First, what do garlic scapes taste like?

When cooked garlic scapes have a delicate, herbaceous garlic flavor, softer than the bite you’d find in raw garlic cloves. Scapes also have grassy, green notes, somewhat akin to scallions or chives. When raw they have a spicy, fresh zing that goes particularly well with other herbs and lemon. Hint, hint, PESTO!

Why You’ll Love This Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe:

Meet my new favorite condiment, full of spicy, garlicky, herby flavor that can be slathered on soooooo many things. It’s balanced by fresh lemon juice, nutty cashews, and salty parmesan cheese.

When developing this recipe, I found that most garlic scape pestos did use any additional herbs. And when I made it that way, it was too one-dimensional. By using basil in addition to the scapes, the bright and fresh flavor balanced the spiciness.

Traditional pestos use pine nuts, but they are expensive and I never have them in my pantry. So I use cashews instead, which have a mild, nutty flavor, and similar texture to pine nuts when pulsed. They work great!

garlic scapes and basil together

How to Make Garlic Scape Pesto in 5 Minutes:

  1. Chop all parts of the garlic scape into 1 inch pieces. Add to food processor with cashews. Process for 30 seconds.
  2. Add basil, cheese, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse 20 to 30 times, to break things down really well, but not into complete mush.
  3. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, while pulsing, another 20 to 30 times. You want the consistency shown in the photos. Put into container, refrigerate, and enjoy!
garlic scape pesto with basil leaves and Parmesan in a food processor
Basil, parmesan, and lemon juice added to the pulsed mixture.
garlic scape pesto in a food processor
finished pesto

Delicious Ways to Eat Garlic Scape Pesto:

What Are Garlic Scapes?

In Spring, garlic is one the first things to send its shoots above the soil, growing tall with about 5 pairs of leaves. And soon it shoots out garlic scapes from its center. These are are the curly, twirly, green stalks that emerge from the center of garlic plants as they grow. Garlic scapes can be eaten cooked or raw (even grilled), and they’re as fun to look at as they are to eat. There are many garlic scape recipes that use this delicious ingredient!

When to Remove Garlic Scapes

I use this common rule: when the scape has completed one loop, it’s time to snip them off at their base. This redirects the plant’s energy into bulb development resulting in a bigger bulb. Harvesting garlic scapes not only encourages larger garlic bulbs but also provides a delicious and nutritious ingredient. Scapes are best harvested when they are young and tender; if you wait too long they they become fibrous and woody.

I started planting garlic in my garden 2 years ago after a trip to Michigan; the man whose home we rented gave me two huge bulbs that he had grown so that I could plant the cloves and grow my own. It has quickly become my favorite plant to grow, as I find its lifecycle incredibly fascinating.

In late Fall, after the rest of your garden has come out for the season, you take your biggest bulbs from this year’s harvest and separate the cloves. The cloves are then planted and hibernate over the Winter, and each cloves turns into a glorious whole head of garlic the next Summer.

garlic scape pesto in a jar with gold spoon
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garlic scape pesto in a jar with a label.

Basil and Garlic Scape Pesto (with cashews)

This easy-to-make Garlic Scape Pesto is full of spicy, garlicky, herby flavor making for an absolutely delicious spread. This recipe uses with both garlic scapes and basil for balance and is brightened by fresh lemon juice. Instead of using pine nuts, it's made with cashews to make it more affordable.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time :5 minutes
Yield: 1 cup
Author: Amanda Paa

SCALE:

Ingredients

  • 9 garlic scapes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup cashews, preferably roasted and unsalted
  • 1 cup fresh basil, lightly packed in measuring cup
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions 

  • Chop all parts of the garlic scape into 1-inch pieces. Add to food processor with cashews. Process for 30 seconds.
  • Add basil, cheese, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse 20 to 30 times, to break things down really well, but not into complete mush.
  • Slowly drizzle in olive oil, while pulsing, another 20 to 30 times. You want the consistency shown in the photos. Put into container, refrigerate, and enjoy!

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June 24, 2024

COMMENT & RATE

I look forward to your comments, reviews and questions! If you love this recipe, please rate it when you leave a comment. Star ratings help people discover my recipes. Your support means a lot; thank you for being a part of the Heartbeet Kitchen community.

Amanda

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Recipe Rating




5 from 2 votes

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4 comments

  1. Kari

    5 stars
    Thank you for another amazing recipe, Amanda! The pesto comes together so quickly and tastes amazing with all that garlic scape goodness. I made a double batch and froze half of it in ice cube trays to enjoy throughout the summer.

    • Amanda Paa

      Yay, so glad you enjoyed it! Good call on the double batch, will be so good to stir this into soup in the Fall!

  2. Devan

    5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe, I was trying to figure out how to use the garlic scapes from my CSA. I subbed parsley for the basil because I had it growing in my garden, and the pesto is delicious. Eating it on some cottage cheese toast now!

    • Amanda Paa

      Yay! So glad you enjoyed it! So much flavor, right? I love it on cottage cheese too!