Dinner Tonight: Pasta with Garlic Scape and Basil Pesto

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

Around for just a short season, garlic scapes are one of those ingredients that you'll probably only find from a local farmer. Curly and funny-looking, the sprouts are harvested when tender and young and have become a rather popular ingredient in stir-fries and, in this case, as the base for a unique kind of pesto. The flavor of the scape is garlicky but not nearly as pungent as the bulb growing beneath.

A bag full of them arrived last week in my CSA box, so I blended some of them with almonds, olive oil, Parmesan, and a handful of basil leaves. While a pesto made entirely from garlic scapes is delicious, I found that the sweet basil tempered the garlicky bite just enough to round out the flavors. I took a cue from Dorie Greenspan to use almonds instead of pesto's traditional pine nuts and the result was light yet flavorful, a perfect simple dinner.

Pasta with Garlic Scape and Basil Pesto

About the author: Blake Royer founded The Paupered Chef with Nick Kindelsperger, where he writes about food and occasional travels. After a year in Estonia, he's now living in Chicago.

Dinner Tonight: Pasta with Garlic Scape and Basil Pesto

About This Recipe


  • 4 to 5 garlic scapes, roughly chopped
  • Large handful basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup almonds, toasted in a dry skillet until slightly browned
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound linguine or other pasta


  1. 1

    Combine the garlic scapes, basil, and half the oil in a small food processor or blender. Process or blend until the leaves and scapes are finely chopped, then add the nuts and remaining oil. Process or blend until nicely pureed.

  2. 2

    Remove to a bowl and stir in the cheese. If necessary, add more olive oil to create a loose paste. Season with more salt if needed.

  3. 3

    In the meantime, bring a large pot of salty water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water, and toss with the pesto. If necessary, add some of the pasta water to create a creamy texture. Serve with more grated Parmesan cheese.


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