Garlic Scape Pesto

Adapted from NY Times Cooking

“The star of this pesto is the garlic plant’s underappreciated second offering: the fleeting garlic scape. The ingredients are straightforward except for the substitution of sunflower seeds for pine nuts. The seeds are a fraction of the cost and do the job just as well. A food processor is a must for this recipe. For pesto, ingredient order matters. Start with the scapes and process for about 30 seconds. Add the seeds until they are broken down and mixed well with the scapes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula for wandering bits. Next, pour in the olive oil. If you have Parmesan cheese in chunks, add it now, but if it is grated, wait until the scapes and seeds smooth out. If you’re serving right away, add the basil and lemon juice. If not, hold back on the basil for now — otherwise the pesto will lose its vibrant color. Add generously to cooked spaghetti or spread on crusty bread.” — Jeff Schwarz and Greg Kessler

garlic scape pestoIngredients:

Cut and measure your garlic scapes first, then reduce other ingredients in proportion to what you have. Note – the photo shows only the flower buds, but use the entire stem.


  • 1 cup garlic scapes, sliced crosswise (about 10 to 12 scapes)
  • ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds OR pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts or pecans
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese (omit if dairy sensitive and add more salt)
  • ½ cup basil leaves (cilantro or arugla work too)
  • Juice of one lemon


  1. Place the garlic scapes in a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the sunflower seeds (or nuts) and pulse for another 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the olive oil and process on high for 15 seconds.
  4. Add the Parmesan cheese (if using) and pulse until the ingredients are combined.
  5. Add the basil and lemon juice, and process until it reaches the desired consistency.
  6. Add salt to taste and serve immediately.