Garlic Scape Dip and Pesto

by Julie on July 7, 2010

I was some surprised when I encountered this gorgeous tub of garlic scapes at the local market near our summer cottage.  And delightfully the proprietors Denise & Glenn offered me a taste of a pesto made from these scapes.  I could hardly contain myself with the inspiration for this post.  If you could be so lucky as to come across some of these hard to find garlic tops you are in for a real treat with this rather addictive dip that can be made from them.  These garlic scapes if you are not familiar are the trimmed tops from a garlic plant.  Removing them allows the garlic bulb to grow nice and plump. When the garlic scapes are still curly, they are tender and delicious.  However the season, at least in my area, for these lovely greens is very short since they are picked only once at a particular time when they have 2 curls to encourage the bulb.

It’s important to trim the fibrous bud portion to avoid the chewy bits but the fine top is perfectly good to use.  This simple recipe can be enjoyed with a simple rice cracker or slathered on spouted grain bread with sliced tomatoes.  I also served it with grilled salmon which was divine.  You could also top the salmon with the pesto and then grill it.

While chatting with Denice she suggested making a big batch of this pesto and freezing it in ice cube trays for handy additions to recipes thru the summer and fall – Luuuved this idea so I bought a few bags!  Clever marketing comment I might add, especially to a foodie like myself!  Creating an alkaline version of this dip meant eliminating the parmesan cheese which is hardly missed for all the gorgeous flavour the scapes offer.  You could add soy parmesan if you wish but I found it was rather addictive as is–there wasn’t a drop left if that says anything at all!

Garlic Scapes Dip & Pesto
Yields: approx 2 cups
2 cups roughly chopped garlic scapes, bud removed

1/2c olive oil +more for consistency if needed
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3c walnuts (you can try different nuts here)

1/4 tsp celtic sea salt or to taste
Place all ingredients in food processor and blend well leaving a wee bit of texture, but not blended to a puree.  Garnish with a few thinly sliced scapes.
Serve with rice chips as a dip, use as a spread on sandwiches, or as a pesto for cooking fish or pasta.

If you have an abundance of garlic scapes they are also a nice addition to stir fry recipes, or as a replacement for onions with a milder yet more complex garlic flavour.  They pair nicely with tomatoes as well in a salad or you can treat them like asparagus and steam or grill them.  Even a salad dressing or guacamole could benefit nicely from a garlic scape.  The possibilities for these are endless, it’s a shame they are so short lived.  But then again that’s what makes me so excited to find them.  How about you, have you had the pleasure of tasting such a thing?  Where did you find them?  Not a grocery store?  What’s your favourite way to enjoy garlic scapes?  Packed with rich green chlorophyll these are a wonderful addition to an alkaline way of living.   Enjoy!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Abby (Nibble, Nourish, Run) July 7, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Oh delicious! I’ve been wondering what scapes are and how to use them – they’ve been popping up on some local restaurant menus in the past few weeks but I haven’t known much about them. This dip sounds lovely – and especially as you suggest over the fish!

Leslie July 7, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Julie this pesto looks incredible! Can you think of any other green like this that I could use if I cannot find the garlic scapes? They kind of look like green onions, but I know the scapes are probably much milder….hmmm. Anyways looks really yummy and I will be on the lookout!!!

Julie July 7, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Abby, Glad to have clarified this for you, hopefully you will come across some so that you can try this recipe out:)

Julie July 7, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Leslie, these scapes are quite solid and meaty inside vs hollow like a green onion and they have a gorgeous garlic flavour that isn’t overpowering. Hope you can find them at the farmers market but if not perhaps lots of garlic chives combined with a mild green vegetable like a blanched green bean. The other day I made a delicious dip of fresh steamed green peas and was it divine! I’ve been into spreads and pestos this week like a mad woman, will have to post a few more of them soon!

callie July 14, 2010 at 1:14 pm

I found your website via and I’m obsessed – everything looks so good! I’m now also dying to get my hands on some garlic scapes!

Julie July 14, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Hi Callie nice to meet you here:) Glad you enjoyed the site. I do about 80% raw with the alkaline lifestyle and I love creating new recipes and photographing them too! So don’t be surprised to find some cooked food as we do eat some. I am moving more towards raw but my family and my followers aren’t ready for this. Smaller markets and farm stands is where I would look for garlic scapes and if you don’t see any ask them as they may not be out as many farmers toss them in the compost. But they won’t be around for long so do hurry:)

heidileon July 14, 2010 at 8:44 pm

wonderful, I have NEVERRRRR tried garlic scapes (and I live in China!), well, I haven’t cooked them. I always thought it was way too difficult to do it.

That’s going to change, I’ll give them a try and spice up my life!.

Julie July 15, 2010 at 9:10 am

Heidileon, it’s good to spice things up a bit and these scapes will do the trick as they have a zippy garlic flavour. I have since noticed that some of the scapes can be stronger than others so it’s a good idea to take a bite and see how zippy they are and increase the amount of nuts and reduce the scapes in the recipe to lessen the zip if you are using it as a dip. If it’s tossed on pasta the noodles will dilute the strength somewhat. But it’s yummy either way. Enjoy:)

tiina { sparkling ink } July 19, 2010 at 11:30 pm

This looks fabulous, Julie! I haven’t used garlic scapes before but I will keep my eyes open and see if I could find them from the farmer’s market here. The recipe sounds so delicious! Love the photographs too! Hope you’re having a wonderful July! xo

Julie July 20, 2010 at 1:00 am

Hey Tina, how are you? Thanx for stopping by, don’t you just love summer with all the markets and the surprises you find in produce? I sooo enjoy cooking at this time of year! Hope you are enjoying summer too!!

Cler August 8, 2010 at 7:22 am

I always get the Garlic Scapes at the asian supermarket, check on the ones you have nearby. Last time I cooked the Scapes , bud included, with pasta and the flavour was great. In my next trip to the asian supermarket I will make sure to get enough to make the pesto. Thanks for the recipe, looks great!

Brigitta April 24, 2012 at 11:47 am

Hi Ladies
The best scapes are the ones that come from your garden. Garlic is one of the easiest things to grow. Living in Vancouver Canada, I pop my cloves in the ground around Oct/Nov and I have lovely scapes in the spring, with no gardening in between. Garlic can grow in just about any soil, even in the forest which is why the cheap non organic garlic out there should be treated with great caution as much of it comes from toxic agricultural regions. Last year I left some of the scapes and had the joy of the flower, which I grilled slightly and used on salads and baked vegetables. That is the caviar of the garlic!

Love your web site, I’m hooked!

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