June 21, 2024

Genovese Basil Pesto with Garlic Scapes

A small bowl of fresh pesto sits on an olivewood board in a marble and copper kitchen. A bunch of fresh basil, large chunks of parmigiano reggiano, and a scattering of pine nuts are shown out of focus in the background

Garlic Scapes Season

Garlic scapes are the tender green shoots that sprout from the tops of hardneck garlic plants. These curly, whimsical stalks are not only a harbinger of summer but also a much sought culinary delight with a milder, more nuanced garlic flavor. Often overlooked, garlic scapes can elevate cooking with their fresh, vibrant taste.

Ingrid delivers a gift of scapes in a fruit box


We received a box of garlic scapes from a generous neighbor's garden a few days ago along with her suggestion we try using them in a classic pesto. By blending these flavorful scapes with fresh basil, pine nuts, and extra virgin olive oil, we prepared a pesto both aromatic and full of depth, ideal for enhancing pasta, sandwiches, or as a dip. As you can see from the photo below, we enjoyed some on linguini the same night!

Garlic scapes have a milder and more delicate flavor compared to raw garlic. While raw garlic has a sharp, pungent, and somewhat spicy kick that can be quite intense, garlic scapes offer a more subtle garlic essence. The scapes bring a fresh, green, and slightly sweet taste with a hint of garlic's familiar warmth without the overpowering bite. Their aroma is also gentler, evoking a blend of fresh greens with a touch of garlic, making them an excellent choice for those who enjoy a more nuanced and balanced garlic flavor in their dishes.

Close up image of coiling fresh scapes in a box with a garlic flower in the center

Do you grow or use scapes? If not, do you think you'd like to try them and discover the subtle elegance of garlic scapes in your cooking? If you do, they're sure to bring a touch of summer to your kitchen.  Happy cooking!  - Liz

Homemade basil pesto is shown generously incorporated linguini al dente