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Were you wondering what those curly-cue things were in your CSA box this week?

Garlic scapes are an early summer treat and disappear quickly. Enjoy them while you can. They’re the bright green, coiled, twisty, flowering stalk that launches forth from a garlic plant. Although you can use them in everything from salads to stir-fries to omelets, the mainstay garlic scape recipe is a pesto. Dorie Greenspan has a wonderful post using almonds in the mix, but most recipes fall back on the typical pine nut and olive oil combination, which is what I’ve done.

garlic scape pesto
what you need

10 to 12 garlic scapes, washed and finely chopped
juice of 1 small lemon
2/3 cup grated asiago or parmesiano reggiano (a nice hard Italian cheese)
1/3 cup pine nuts
3/4 to 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
course ground sea salt

what you do
Put the garlic scapes, lemon, pine nuts, half the cheese and half the oil in a food processor, blend well. Add the rest of the oil and cheese (to taste) and continue processing. Taste and adjust as you like, season with the salt. Serve with pasta or over thick crackers or bread (all gluten-free in my case).

If you only have a few garlic scapes, adjust the recipe to accommodate what you have.

Yum . . . Melissa

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28 Responses to “garlic scape pesto”

  1. Tevis says:

    Oh my goodness! I grilled these last weekend and they are so GOOD!

  2. Mary says:

    I had no idea what these were. Hope we get more next week!



  3. Melissa says:

    Hey Tev,

    Yes, I love these little curly-cues. You’d love the pesto. I’m thinking it would be wonderful on a thick GF bread topped with chopped tomatoes. Any ideas for bread? Maybe the Whole Foods GF pizza crust — that’s an artisan type bread.

    Try it over the Tinkyada organic brown rice pasta. Then add in some chopped tomatoes. The garlic scape pesto is almost like basil to me, it goes perfect with tomatoes.


  4. Melissa says:


    Yes, these garlic scapes are wonderful and a bit quirky. But seriously, they’ll be gone in an instant, so use them quickly.


  5. I’ll look for them tomorrow at the market. ๐Ÿ™‚ Pesto is so good. I love pesto on grilled chicken! The pesto with almonds sounds nice, too. Thanks for that link.


  6. Melissa says:


    The season is almost over — garlic scapes come and go so quickly, but they’re really a treat. Pine nuts are ridiculously expensive, so they almonds might be the way to go. Having said that, I love it with pine nuts. And yes, Dorie Greenspan is one of my favorites.

    Have a nice weekend!

  7. CoconutGal says:

    We bought some scapes the other week at the market but they were the un-curly kind. I looked online and found several pesto recipes but got lazy and we ended up grilling them rubbed in olive oil- so caramely and delicious!
    I do love pesto though so I’m thinking we better pick up some more while they are here. Have a good weekend Melissa!

  8. Melissa says:


    You and Tevis are on the same page with grilling the garlic scapes. I’ll have to try that. I usually sautรฉ them or make pesto.

    Happy weekend to you, too!

  9. Cid says:


    This is something I’ve never seen in the UK. I’m a big fan of pesto and this recipe sounds delicious. That does it, we’ve got to try GF pasta making to suit a fine pesto like this. I shall investigate what’s available here by way of suitable flour and report back.


  10. Rayannn says:

    We made the pesto last night and it was incredible. We had it on slices of crusty french bread, and couldn’t get enough of it.

    We love pine nuts, and since they can be a bit pricey, we buy them in a large bag at Costco – much cheaper that way.

  11. greedydave says:


    This is an outrage! Why has everyone eaten garlic scapes except me? I’ve certainly not seen them at my local grocery store, so I feel another burdock root-esque, obsessive compulsive internet hunt is on the cards. Do GFF deliver as far as Glasgow? ๐Ÿ™‚


  12. CoconutGal says:

    Melissa I’m back to ask the expert (that’s you) what to do with a few of the MANY goodies we picked up at the farmers market this morning. Some delicious beets (inspired by your recent recipes!) and some beautiful carrots. I’m not so worried about the actual veggies but their greens… any ideas or recipes of what to do with these? Carrots tops as a salad just don’t do it for me. Maybe even a recipe to combine them together?
    Also how do you feel about eating carrots/beets un-peeled? Weird or good for you? My opinion is a little dirt never hurt ya and more of the nutrients are there un-peeled.
    Ok, off to eat some fresh raspberries ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. Melissa says:


    You would love garlic scapes, especially making a pesto using your exotic cheeses. Not to mention your hand-crafted pastas. We get these early in the growing season and they are such a treat. Unfortunately, they are gone before you know it!


  14. Melissa says:


    Welcome! Oh, the crusty French bread sounds delightful, but I must pass on that one. There are some good alternatives, but not as easy to make. Such is life. Thanks for the tip about pine nuts at Cosco. Interesting! Yes, the are definitely pricey. Whole Foods (Whole Paycheck) has them for $26 a pound. YIKES!

    Thanks for leaving a comment. I appreciate it.

  15. Melissa says:


    It appears Cid hasn’t had garlic scapes either. You have garlic in the UK, so you must have garlic scapes. See if Miles can grow you some.

    I’m going to ask Andy Grant if he’s interested in branching out, but I don’t know if his “eat local” campaign would sound all that sincere if he delivered to Scotland! What is available to you at Farmer’s Markets?

    Your comments always crack me up. You’re a funny guy, GDave.


  16. Melissa says:


    I never peel beets or carrots unless there’s a really funky section. I have a veggie scrubber and I really work them over, making sure they are clean. Here’s a post I did on beet greens and I comment on the peeling part.

    I use a potato peeler and often just peel raw carrots or beets into my salads or right into the saute pan. I don’t see any reason to peel beets as the skin keeps the red juicy stuff from getting all over. Plus, there has to be some good nutrients in the peels. Just a personal preference, I guess.

    And you know, I love sauteed beet greens. They are a favorite of mine. As for the carrot greens, I find them bitter, but some people do use them. They’re nutritious and full of chlorophyll. You’ll notice that’s something that health food stores are pushing now. Chlorophyll is thought to help reduce the growth of cancer cells. I don’t know as I haven’t looked into the science behind it. I throw my carrot tops in my compost pile, but always a bit reluctantly because they look so wonderful. You can juice them with something sweet (apple, the carrot, etc.) — I’ve done that and they’re okay. I’m just not crazy about the way they taste. Let me know if you discover a wonderful new coconut and carrot green recipe!!


    You know beets and carrots are the sweetest veggies. That’s probably why they’re favorites of mine. Yum, veggie candy.

  17. Rayann says:


    Not sure if you’ve tried this, but we combined two of your recent posts for breakfast yesterday – the garlic scape pesto and the poached eggs with kale. Added a thin layer of pesto to a slice of bread, topped with sauteed kale, then added a poached egg. Fantastic!!!

  18. Melissa says:


    No, I haven’t tried that and thanks for commenting on it. Wow, that does sound delicious. Good idea! I’m really liking the garlic scape pesto and am going to make a basil walnut one and a cilantro version as well. It’s such a good thing to use in so many ways — as you’ve discovered with the kale and eggs. Can’t wait to try it. I need more garlic scapes!! I love them.

  19. CoconutGal says:

    Thanks Melissa!
    Your sautรฉed beet green recipe sounds SO delicious (and simple- my favorite). I haven’t tossed the carrot tops just yet, I’m still thinking about how to use them. I will let you know what I come up with. We haven’t found a farm with a CSA we like yet (we previewed 2 different farms and one gave us moldy veggies, what’s with that?! and the other gave us stuff from California? Both were supposedly organic & local!) so we brave the farmer’s market every weekend. I get worse and worse every time we go we need to bring more bags. I figure the more greens I buy each week the more incentive it is for my hubby to be convinced we need to move somewhere with a huuuuge yard. Until then, I’m the crazy girl with 4 bags with greens hanging out and 6 pints of strawberries ๐Ÿ™‚
    What kind of veggie scrubber do you use? I just bought one of these:
    and it rubs the peels right off it’s so harsh. Maybe you have something less abrasive?

  20. Cid says:


    To think we haven’t even found a burdock yet (lord knows I’m still trying!) and now we find out we’re lacking in scapes. There’s nothing for it but to grow our own and know just when to tackle the scapes before they bloom presumably?

    I think Melissa makes most of it up you know…. next she’ll be telling us she has vanilla pods in her hanging baskets ๐Ÿ™‚


  21. Miles says:

    I stick them in minestrone and butter sauces for fish dishes, they’re great aren’t they?


  22. Melissa says:


    Yes, let me know if you figure out a good (and tasty) use for the carrot tops. Oh, that’s too bad about your CSA choices so far. I’m so lucky to have this great resource nearby!

    I’ve never seen that scrubber you have, but it does look interesting. I have the oxo version. It’s the first one listed on the page. (Google vegetable scrubbers Amazon — the link is too long to insert here.) I stick mine in the dishwasher regularly just to keep it clean.


  23. Melissa says:


    Although your comment wasn’t directed to me, I’m going to chime in anyway. You must be my long lost cousin as I just finished (almost, must proofread now) a post in which I actually said “I make things up.” And that was before reading your comment to GDave.

    You know me all too well for not knowing me.


  24. Melissa says:


    Wow, good idea. Thanks! You’re inspiring me to try a salmon mix with the scapes. I also thought I might mix them into a Tuscan type soup with kale. I have an abundance of kale right now.

  25. Kelly says:

    Wow this was great! I put in the leftovers from the night before in my bake potato. It was delicious.

  26. […] Garlic Scape Pesto at Gluten-Free for Good Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto at Kalynโ€™s Kitchen Artichoke Pesto at Gluten-Free by Nature […]

  27. Nadya says:

    Yum!! I have gotten garlic Scapes in my CSA share, too, & also usually saute them in a bit of coconut oil with onions & such. Pesto … nummy!
    I have made some lovely pesto with nettle tops (some of our OG farmers have them available throughout the season) just lightly cook & use like you would basil – you could use the quinoa greens that way, too!
    It would be fun to combine nettles or quinoa & the scapes

    • Melissa says:


      Thanks for the comment. Nettle tops is a new one for me. I haven’t used them yet, but your recommendation is enough to motivate me to find some! Love your contributions! You’re a girl after my own heart!


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