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
- 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
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.
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.
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.