Garlic scapes and pesto

Garlic scapes, the curly pig tail plant you will only see in your CSA for just a few weeks are actually the flower stalk of the hard neck garlic plant. Scapes are curly when they’re younger and gradually become straighter as they grow taller. They smell just like garlic and taste a bit milder.

The whole plant is edible, but the part above the flower can be tougher, so this part is usually cut off before eating.

At the Orchard Gardens kitchen, Michelle Parisi, assistant farmer at the Orchard Gardens Farm and her niece, Ava, demonstrate how to make pesto with garlic scapes. Michelle has worked with GCH for four years. She started out as a volunteer 10 years ago and has remained with us ever since.

The nice thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t require precise measurements. As Michelle puts it, pesto gives you the freedom to add in more of what you like and less of what you don’t.

First, Michelle chops about 30-40 scapes. She suggests saving the garlic scapes in your CSA from week to week or grab them from the trade bin to make larger batches of pesto.

What’s great about making pesto with garlic scapes or other greens, is that it’s a good way to use up leftover greens (perfect for peak greens season). Plus, it freezes really well so you can store it for later.


What you’ll need for the garlic scape pesto:

Garlic scapes – If you don’t have garlic scapes, you can use any other green like spinach, arugula, mustard greens and basil.

Grated or chopped parmesan cheese

Pumpkin seeds - You could also use sunflower seeds, pine nuts or walnuts. Michelle toasted them in a pan for a couple minutes.

Olive oil

Blend garlic scapes and olive oil in a food processor. Add in cheese, seeds, salt or other seasonings to taste. Blend all together until smooth or until it becomes the consistency you desire.


Here’s a recipe to get an idea of basic pesto proportions:

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

2 cloves garlic

¼ cup pine nuts

2/3 cup olive oil

½ cup grated Pecorino cheese


Here are a few other recipes featuring garlic scapes:

Garlic Scape Hummus:

All you need for this simple recipe are some garlic scapes, chickpeas, olive oil and a lemon.

Grilled Garlic Scapes:

This recipe argues that grilling garlic scapes is the best way to eat them. Find out for yourself!

Garlic Scape Pizza:

Sautee your garlic scapes and then top on your favorite homemade pizza recipe.

Jazzie JohnsonComment