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I love pesto. Rich, flavorful and creamy, pesto is great on top of pasta, pizza and meat. And while my favorite is the traditional basil pesto, I also like to mix it up and add some variety. My favorite pesto variation? Garlic scape pesto, made in that short season when you can find scapes at the farmer’s market.
What are garlic scapes? Put simply, they are the young curly green flower stalks of hardneck varieties of garlic. They are often cut off to allow the plant to focus all its energy on developing the main garlic bulb underground. They are milder and a bit sweeter than straight garlic cloves, though they still have a little of that garlic “bite.”
Makes about 2 cups
9-12 garlic scapes, cut into 2” pieces
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup sliced, blanched almonds
3 tablespoons freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Mix all ingredients in a food processor until completely blended, scraping down the sides as needed.
Arugula Pesto: Replace the garlic scapes with 1 ½ cups arugula and the almonds with sunflower seeds.
Spinach Basil Pesto: Replace the garlic scapes with ¾ cup spinach and 3/4 cup fresh basil and the almonds with chopped walnuts.
Red Pepper Pesto: Replace the garlic scapes with ½ cups diced red peppers and the almonds with pine nuts. Add ¼ cup fresh basil. Works with raw or roasted red peppers.
And why not make it into a main dish, such as this garlic pesto pizza, topped with spicy arugula?
1 batch of your favorite pizza dough
2 cups garlic scape pesto (recipe above)
1 1/2 - 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups fresh arugula1/4 cup balsamic, red wine or lemon vinaigrette
Toss the arugula with the vinaigrette and set aside to marinate.
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Roll the crust out onto a greased cookie sheet or baking stone. Spread the pesto evenly over the crust, then sprinkle with the cheese. Drizzle with the olive oil and bake at 425F for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
Allow the pizza to cool for 5 minutes, then top with the arugula. Allow to rest for another 5 minutes, then serve.
What is your favorite way to eat garlic scapes? Do you love pesto as much as I do?
Photos by Julie Grice