At last month's Green City Market Chef's BBQ, Friend of the Food Chain and allium enthusiast Alan Lake and I were sitting around talking garlic scapes, the subject being unavoidable, as abundant piles of them were being used as table centerpieces. Scapes are the pliant, coiling green flower stalks typically cut off from the subterranean garlic bulb; usually they're some of the first things to show up at spring farmers' markets. Lake has been gearing up
to publish a many-years-in-the-making garlic manifesto
, so he asked me to gin up a recipe. Mine is very loosely adapted from Marcella Hazan's classic basil pesto recipe in The Elements of Classic Italian Cooking
, which acknowledges that most home cooks don't have the time or energy to pound the ingredients into paste—the preferred method—and so offers a additional simpler recipe that makes use of a food processor. But ever since Chef McDang, the Principal of Thai Cookery
, told me it was OK to cheat a little bit in making Thai pastes and curries by using a combination of both, I've applied the same MO to making pesto.
Scapes aren't nearly as pungent as garlic cloves, so this is milder than you might expect. But you'll still need a breath mint or two after eating. Recipe after the jump.
Garlic scape pesto
A handful of garlic scapes, about two and a half dozen
About a half cup loosely packed basil
4 T roasted unsalted pepitas
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
3/4 c Parmigiano-reggiano
3 T butter at room temperature
Chop the scapes and pound in batches in a mortar until pulpy. Do the same with the basil. You should have about two cups total. Lightly toast the pepitas in a heavy skillet. Add scapes, basil, and pepitas to a food processor and pulse, while slowly drizzling in olive oil until smooth. Salt to taste. Remove to a bowl. Gently fold in cheese and butter.