Eating in season and local is very important to me for both flavor and environmental reasons (not to mention health–fruits and vegetables picked at a more ripened stage are full of more nutrients). Garlic scapes are the curly tops of the garlic plant and are available at farmers markets and my food co-op in early summer. Basically in order to re-divert the energy into growing the bulb, farmers usually cut the scapes off in mid-late June, which is lucky for us because they are simply delicious in this pesto. In fact, you may not ever go back to eating regular pesto again. In case you fall in love with scapes like me, here‘s a hilarious overview of a few other recipes, courtesy of the Huffington Post and their “WTF, CSA” series. This is adapted from a Dorie Greenspan recipe.
- 10 garlic scapes, finely chopped
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 1/3 cup crushed walnuts or almonds
- About 1/2 cup olive oil
- Sea salt
Put the scapes, 1/3 cup of the cheese, almonds and half the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor (or use a blender or a mortar and pestle). Whir to chop and blend all the ingredients and then add the remainder of the oil and, if you want, more cheese. If you like the texture, stop; if you’d like it a little thinner, add some more oil. Season with salt.
Ramson or wild garlic is also a great alternative pesto, giving it a similar taste as garlic scapes, but arriving at the farmers markets here in Brussels a bit earlier in the season.
- 100 g of ramson leaves
- 100 g of good Parmesan cheese, grated
- 100 g of ground almonds
- 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil (plus more as needed)
- salt and pepper
Place all of the ingredients, aside from the olive oil, in a food blender. Blend until smooth and then gradually start adding the olive oil. Add enough to make the pesto smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, as needed.
Note 1: If you’re not going to use the pesto immediately, press a piece of plastic against the surface to keep it from oxidizing. The pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days or packed airtight and frozen for a couple of months. I usually freeze it in ice cube trays and then store in ziplock bags.
Note 2: Once scape season is over, I usually make a version of this with broccoli and walnuts. Substitute with 1/2 lb of broccoli and 1/2 cup of walnuts for the almonds.