Garlic Scape Pesto
Garlic Scape Pesto

As we have written, Blue Moon Farm makes the most exquisite Garlic Scape Pesto, available year-round (thanks to the miracle of freezing, which has zero affect on the quality of this addictive, umami-savory rich spread.) In the summer of 2011, when my excellent husband's garlic crop first yielded a pesto-worthy quantity of scapes—the flexible, musical-looking pencil-thin green flower stems of hard-neck garlic—I cheekily asked Leo Keene, aka Mr. Blue Moon, how to make pesto with my own scapes. After all, as I told him, it is his fault that my household now plants 16 square feet of Blue Moon cloves near Halloween each year, harvests tender green garlic in March and April, rejoices in an additional tender crop of the scapes in June, and finally pulls an aromatic harvest of fat garlic bulbs out of the ground the following July 4.

Leo graciously told me to make garlic scape pesto just like any pesto, using walnuts, olive oil, salt, Parmesan cheese, and the green scapes. No lemon juice. No no no. I tried that last year, using some Blue Moon scapes, and ended up with a brown mess, which I resented because I added the lemon juice to hold the beautiful bright green color.

Garlic has its own powers, and the scapes hold that shimmering green all by themselves, with no help from lemon, thank you very much. Or so it seemed this year, 2011.

The amounts below are approximate. The quality of the Parmesan and olive oil make a lot of difference. Most online recipes, and there are many, use a great deal more olive oil than this, and they are delicious as well. This is a primarily vegetal pesto, and in 2011 it was splendid.

RECIPE (finally!)

Put these ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a standard blade:

  • One giant handful clean, dry garlic scapes, about 12 ounces, chopped into 3-4 inch lengths (enough to fill three cups, loosely)
  • 2.5 cups toasted, cooled English walnuts
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, and more if needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon excellent salt, and more if needed

Pulse six times. Remove lid, stir.


  • 2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, or the best Parmesan you can find

Pulse three times. Check the texture. If you want the pesto to be less chunky, pulse as needed, checking after every three pulses, until the pesto is as smooth or as chunky as you like. You may need to add more olive oil or salt.

Use immediately, or chill for use within three days, or freeze for use within one year.