If you’ve never heard of garlic scapes, they are basically the flowering stem on growing garlic. You only get them on hardneck garlic and elephant garlic. The hardneck ones curl around like a large pigs tail and you know they’re ready when they loop back on themselves. The elephant garlic scapes head straight up to the skies, and both, if left alone, will flower and set seed like any other plant. It’s normally recommended to remove them so that the plant concentrates its energy into the bulb.
This is all quite new to me because I’ve never grown hardneck garlic until this season. And while I have grown elephant garlic before, I had no idea the flowering stem could be used like a scape in the same way, and they just ended up on the compost. Also, I’d heard of pickled scapes, but nothing more, and not being a big pickle fan I didn’t think they were worth bothering with. I had no idea what treasure I was wasting.
If you’re a garlic lover, it is worth growing these varieties for the scapes alone, they have the most intense fresh garlic flavour, and this pesto is so easy to whizz up, normal pesto is frankly just boring by comparison.
Source: The Garlic Farm website.
- 400g Scapes cut into pieces
- 100g grated parmesan
- 250ml Extra virgin Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
- Salt & black pepper to taste
Put everything into a blender or food processor and blitz. Add more oil if required and season to taste.
My first small experimental batch was spread onto a cheese and tomato sandwich. It was so delicious, I headed straight back to the allotment to collect more scapes and made a bigger batch (with a bit of added basil) to stir into pasta. Use it anywhere you might do conventional pesto.