If you love garlic and have never eaten garlic scapes, run to your nearest farmers market and buy up all you can get your hands on, because you are in for a treat. Garlic scapes are only available for a very short time in late spring/early summer. I buy them when they're in season and I I freeze them. I also make pesto with them (recipe to follow)
Garlic scapes are the "flower stalks" of hardneck garlic plants, although they do not produce flowers. These stalks start to appear a month or so after the first leaves. They are usually cut off of the plant, since leaving them on diverts the plants strength away from forming a plump bulb. If left on, they eventually form small bulbils that can be planted to grow more garlic, but it takes 2–3 years for them to form large bulbs. Garlic scapes are sweeter than garlic and my favorite thing to do with them is to make a pesto for pasta, fish and chicken, or spread on crusty bread.
Garlic Scape PestoAdd the garlic scapes, basil and salt to the large bowl of a food processor. Start processing, adding oil slowly. Stop processing and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Once a smooth paste has been achieved, add parmesan and process until completely mixed in. Stop processing and add all of the nuts. Pulse processor until nuts are roughly chopped and fully mixed in. This gives the pesto a great texture. Put the pesto in an airtight container and cover with a thin layer of olive oil, it will keep for about 2 weeks. Or spoon the pesto into ice cube trays and once the cubes are frozen, remove them and place them in a plastic freezer.
10 to 12 large garlic scapes, with the bulb removed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup (lightly packed) clean and dry basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 to 1 cup (or more depending on how thick you want your pesto) of good quality olive oil
1 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese
Grill chicken or fish and top with this pesto
Serve pasta and this pesto
Spead fresh ricotta cheese on a toasted baguette and top with pesto
Use this pesto instead of mayonnaise on sandwiches
Add the frozen pesto cubes to soups, stews, and pasta sauces
Thin the pesto with olive oil and drizzle it over sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella