Saturday, June 16, 2012

Arugula & Garlic Scape Pesto

I've been looking for recipe ideas for arugula and garlic scapes over the last couple of days since I brought home both in our co-op box on Thursday. I typically prepare arugula raw in salads or sauté it with garlic and olive oil. Garlic scapes** we get in our box once a year around now and I usually just use it in sautéed vegetables. I wanted to try something new but needed some inspiration. 

garlic scapes
**garlic scapes are the flowering stalk tops of hardneck garlic plants. They are cut off during the growing period just before this 'flower' starts to develop into seeds or tiny bulbs. This helps force the plant to put its energy into growing plump garlic bulb in the soil.

Then on Friday I saw a tweet with a picture from the executive chef of a fabulous local restaurant [and she's following me! *tickled pink*] as she was preparing to roast garlic scapes for a homemade butter to be used in the restaurant. Doesn't that sound divine?!! Not very practical for me to make a pound of garlic scape infused butter, so I asked her for garlic scape suggestions and she replied, "Pesto hummus pasta dishes mussels clams anything u would use reg garlic for!" 

I loved the pesto and hummus ideas, so I decided to give both a try this weekend. First up was the pesto last night. I experimented with what I had in my veggie box and made an arugula-garlic scape pesto that turned out well. Very well if you love garlic. Here's my recipe:

Arugula & Garlic-scape Pesto 

This pesto is a lovely spring green color and smells like fragrant spring greens. I tossed the pesto with some fresh cooked pasta and a bit of reserved cooking liquid from the pasta. I served it with simple pan seared shrimp seasoned with spices and tomato chunks sprinkled with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. It was a lovely dinner. :) 

1 bunch arugula 
4 garlic scapes
1/2 cup whole almonds
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt

1. Thoroughly wash and drain or spin arugula and set aside. For instructions on washing greens, see my note at the bottom of this post. 

2. Add four garlic scapes cut into rough 1/2" pieces and 1/2 cup whole almonds into the bowl of a food processor and process until finely minced. 

3. Add the arugula to the food processor bowl, tearing large leaves as you go along. Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and start processing the greens with the garlic and almonds. If necessary, stop the processor and mix up the ingredients with a spatula to help the process.
4. Add more olive oil to the pesto, 1 tablespoon at a time followed by 30 seconds to 1 minute of processing, until the pesto is well processed. The pesto will swirl around in the processor bowl and look uniform in color and texture when enough olive oil has been added. 
Note: I think I used about 4-5 tablespoons total when making this recipe. 2 tablespoons in step 3 and then 2-3 tablespoons more in step 4. 

5. Use this pesto as you would a basil pesto.. as a base on Homemade Pizza or tossed with pasta and served with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. If using on pasta, it's always a good idea to reserve some of the cooking liquid from the pot of boiling pasta to thin the pesto a bit so it evenly coats the pasta. Add in small increments so you don't completely water down the pesto. 

Kitchen Tip: Washing Greens

  1. Invest in a good salad spinner. I love the OXO salad spinner and use mine almost every day. My first OXO salad spinner lasted me 10 years before the spinner component in the top stopped working. I bought my second one about a year ago.
  2. Add cool water to the salad spinner bowl and add greens. Do not cut or tear leaves until the end.. good things will leach out of your greens into the water. Keep them in the leaves as much as possible so they get into your body and don't get dumped down the drain! 
  3. Gently swish the leaves around a bit and then let them sit in the water a few minutes. This gives sand and dirt time to settle to the bottom of the bowl. Sometimes little bitty bugs float to the top, especially if you are using organic greens [<--I recommend you do]. 
  4. If you have little bitty bugs floating on top, gently press the greens into the water a bit and carefully tilt the bowl into the sink so some of the water drains off and carries the bugs into the sink. Drain only a bit of the water, not a lot. 
  5. Carefully lift greens out of the water by the handful and put them in the basket or strainer of the spinner, which you are holding over the sink. 
  6. When all of the greens are in the basket or strainer, set aside. 
  7. Dump water from bowl into sink. 
  8. Repeat steps 2 through 7 until water in bowl is clear of any sand, dirt, grit or bugs. 
  9. When your greens are clean, put basket back into spinner bowl, add top and spin to remove as much water as you can. 
  10. If you are not using a spinner, use paper towels to gently dry the greens as much as you can. 
  11. NOW you can tear, chop, chiffonade and basically cut up your greens in the way you want for your recipe. 

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Weekend Cooking, a weekly blog event hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food related post to share--a food related book review (fiction or nonfiction), cookbook review, movie review, a recipe, random thoughts, gadgets, food quotations, photographs, etc. Please visit Beth's blog for more information and join the fun! 

Note: your post does not have to be posted on the weekend, but do visit Beth's blog over the weekend to link up your post. 


  1. I have never ever heard of scapes! Great to read about them in your post. Have a good week.

  2. Pretty clever to ask the chef and then come up with a recipe. Two weekend cookers talked about scapes this w'end...I must look into this!!

  3. Hi Carole,
    I don't think I would have discovered garlic scapes if I wasn't in the organic co-op. I haven't seen them in the regular supermarket!

    Hi Libby,
    I'm glad I asked the chef and happy she give me some great hints!
    I'll have to click around and see what the other weekend-cooker said about scapes. :)

  4. Sounds soooooo good. And so cool that the chef is following you!

    I pickled most of my scapes. We eat them as a snack.

  5. Looks yummy :)Of course, I wouldn't have those vegetables in my fridge. I need to try to do homemade pesto... Although there's one that we buy and we really like it.

    Cool that she's following you and giving you tips and suggestions!

  6. Yum. Looks delicious! If we get some garlic scapes and arugula, I'll give this recipe a whirl!

  7. I've never really experimented with different kinds of pesto, but that looks (and sounds) spectacular! I love garlic, too, so must try this soon. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Normally I don't like pesto, but this one sounds delicious! I'll have to see if I can talk Chris into trying it. Thanks!

  9. I had only heard of scape from Weekend Cooking posts, but I have no idea where you would go to buy them!

  10. Yum! Glad you got the garlic scapes since I wouldn't have a clue what to do with them. But now I do. :) I'll have to check Sprouts and see if they have them.

  11. I love pestos and you can make them from almost anything, try spinach, yumm! The scapes look like scallions. Farfalle is a favorite pasta : )


  12. I've never heard of garlic scapes before :) And kudos WRT the chef following you on Twitter!

    Can I just say - you would write the most amazing cookbook!


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