Garlic Scapes – A Simple Pesto Recipe

The Great Garlic Scape

Garlic Scapes The Coeur d'Alene Coop

Loop and curl garlic scapes.

Last fall I planted about 50 bulbs of Spanish Roja garlic — a hard neck variety with a hot and spicy taste.   The garlic is doing extremely well and I’m anticipating a bounty of bulbs this fall.  One bonus of growing garlic is the tender, tasty garlic scape that appears on the plant in spring.  It is a culinary delight and it’s removal from the plant guarantees a plump garlic bulb in the fall.

A garlic scape is the flower stalk of a hard neck garlic plant.  These magical looking, curling, twisting stalks that appear in spring aren’t really flowers, but are bulbils — tiny garlic heads that can be used to grow more garlic (although it will take several years to form a large bulb).  Scapes are usually cut from the plant to divert energy in to producing a large bulb and not bulbils.  Leaving them on the plant is no cause for concern, you’ll just end up with slightly smaller garlic bulbs in the fall.

Did I mention they are delicious?

Scapes can be used in any dish that calls for garlic; and while they are milder in flavor, they still deliver a nice garlic-y tang to dishes.  Their “garlic-hotness” really depends on the variety of which they are from — our Spanish Roja’s scapes deliver a good garlic flavor.

Scapes and garlic greens are delicious lightly sauteed alone or with any type of green or vegetable (we love them with spinach or green beans) or used fresh like a scallion.   My personal favorite is pesto.  It’s a snap to make and it perfect over pasta or on a pizza.

Garlic Scape Pesto The Coeur d'Alene Coop

Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic Scape Pesto

  • 8 -10 garlic scapes (I use scapes and the attached greens)
  • 1/3 cup of pine nuts (you can also use almonds or pistachios)
  • 1/3 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano (I used Romano – it’s what I had in the fridge)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 small lemon

Rough chop the scapes and put them, along with the nuts and cheese in a food processor.  Pulse until blended, add salt and pepper and lemon juice.  With processor running, drizzle in olive oil until blended and smooth.

If you’re not growing garlic this year, you can find garlic scapes now at your local farmer’s market.

What’s your favorite way to use garlic scapes?  Share your recipe below in the comments!


  1. Just finished making this pesto. It is such a beautiful colour green. I am serving it tonight with BBQ turkey burgers. I added the pesto to barley that I simmered in veggie stock earlier in the day. Just before serving I will add fresh tomatoes and maybe some black olives……the possibilities are endless. I had enough scapes to make 2 batches so I have one batch in a freezer bag for future use….maybe a pizza with feta and tomato. Yummy!

    • Hi Deborah, I agree, the color is fantastic and unlike pesto made with basil, this keeps its vibrant green color. My favorite way to use this is simply with pasta — mixing it in with a little feta cheese and some of the hot pasta cooking water…stir it around and it will become a delicious, creamy, garlic-y sauce. So simple, so good! Pizza sounds pretty great too!

  2. Cecelia says:

    I use the garlic pesto stirred into some heavy cream for a delicious sauce over baked chicken breasts.

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