This week I made my first batch of garlic scape pesto. One of the things I enjoy most about preserving food is thinking about how I’m going to use it during the off season.
While I was making the pesto I flashed to our annual winter ski trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Our group of friends rents a cabin that has no electricity or running water. We have to load all of our supplies onto sleds and ski them into the cabin. The weekend is spent cross country skiing on beautiful trails, taking turns cooking for each other on the woodstove, and eating great food and drinking good beer by candlelight.
Tradition calls for everyone to bring food for lunch to share with each other. There’s usually a big spread on the table for a few hours in the afternoon so skiers can arrive on their own schedules and dig in. We have hummus, cured meats, local cheeses, vegetables, greens, chips and various spreads and pestos. It’s a sandwich making feast for famished skiers!
We always bring a jar or two of our garlic scape pesto to sit amongst the other homemade sauces and spreads (it’s a food preserving kind of group). And while I’m tucking into a delicious sandwich in a snowy cabin many miles and months away from my garden’s garlic season, I’ll think of the sunny and warm day that I made the pesto in my kitchen.
I love how food preserving brings me full circle each year. From the planting, to the harvesting, to the preserving, to the winter sandwich eating over a year after I first planted the clove that grew into the garlic that made the scape the next spring. Wow! What a journey full of life and love and beauty. And that’s exactly how I want my food to feel and taste.
So, in honor of these lazy summer days and in preparation for the long winter nights to come, harvest your garlic scapes this week and make some pesto. You never know what occasions will present themselves to break out a fresh jar this winter.
Garlic Scape Pesto
The scape is the flower that emerges from the middle of the stalk. The theory behind harvesting them is that it forces the garlic to put its energy towards making a bigger bulb instead of making a flower. I harvest mine when they start to curl themselves into a circle. The longer you wait, the spicier and tougher the scapes become. I either snap them off by hand or use a knife to cut them.
Recipe by Bjorn Bergman (one of the ski trip members!)
Makes 1 ½ cups, or not quite two half pint jars
2 cups garlic scapes, roughly chopped
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup walnuts
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
½ – ¾ cup of olive oil or sunflower oil
- Add garlic scapes, Parmesan, walnuts, salt, and black pepper to food processor and pulse until well blended.
- Turn processor on and slowly add ½ cup oil. Once added, stop the processor and scrape sides to make sure all ingredients are incorporated.
- Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- If pesto is too thick, add more oil while processor is running.
- Process pesto once more until it is creamy, about 1 minute.
I like to store mine in glass jam jars in my chest freezer. You can also freeze it into discs or ice cubes and then store in a freezer bag. Don’t forget to label the jar with the item and date. Frozen food is best if eaten within a year.
How I use garlic scape pesto: Paired with hummus for lunch wraps, as a sauce for homemade pizza, lathered on to egg sandwiches, and mixed into pasta dishes.
Preserving some of your excess produce is the best way to make your garden harvests last all year. And, preserving doesn’t have to be difficult or take up a lot of time.
In fact, since I’m not a big fan of canning I’m constantly on the hunt for the simplest and quickest way to preserve each fruit and vegetable. I compiled my favorite techniques, recipes and tips into my book,Super Easy Food Preserving. You can purchase the eBook, print book, or bundle here.