No summer snacking is complete without Garlic Scape Pesto. It is such a delightful snack because it tastes different every year, makes use of an interesting ingredient, and is so versatile.


In Wisconsin, garlic is planted on Columbus Day. The cloves need warm earth and a little time to get situated for a long winter of slow growth. At Thanksgiving we cover those babies up with a layer of leaves and old quilts which have become garden covers. Somewhere between Easter and Mother’s Day, the blankets are removed and the garlic leaves burst through the ground. By Father’s Day, hardneck garlic has scapes which need to be cut. And, usually around the 4th of July, the garlic is harvested. Such a natural and easy to follow rhythm.

Scapes are a stalk that the garlic head pushes up through the garlic leaves. The stalk climbs up to the sun, gets long and hard, and then twists into a curl. It is pretty. It is also essential that we cut it off! If left alone, the hardneck scape will try to produce a flower. That beautiful flower will steal precious energy from the head growth and redirect it into reproduction. So, we remove the scape and allow the garlic to focus on producing large and delicious cloves. The scape, however, is oozing with intense garlic oil. Delicious in a great many things, pesto is my favorite.

This year, in honor of our Turquoise Table project, I am making small containers of pesto to give away to my neighbors.



4.5 ounces of scapes
2/3 c of shredded parmesan cheese
1/3 c of toasted pine nuts
1/3 c of toasted walnuts
1/2 tsp of salt
3/4 c extra virgin olive oil

1. Toast the nuts.
2. Pulse the scapes in a food processor until they are the consistency of a rough chop.
3. Add nuts and cheese into the food processor. Pulse until everything is gritty.
4. Allowing the food processor to run, drizzle in olive oil.
5. Taste and season with salt as necessary.

Scapes will have a wide range of flavor. Depending on the soil, the weather, and a myriad of other factors, they could be very bland, very sharp, or anywhere inbetween. There is no perfect science to this. Make it to suit your taste. If your scapes are very hot/spicy/sharp, work in more oil, nuts and cheese – allowing those items to tone down the intensity.

In 2013 our scape pesto was so spicy I could barely eat it. The next several years had intense but not offensive sharpness. Last year, it was so bland that it almost wasn’t fun to eat it! This year… our scapes taste like fire!