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Garlic Scape Pesto (Dairy-Free)

Garlic Scape Pesto over penne pasta

Dairy-free Garlic Scape Pesto can be made in less time than it takes to boil a pot of water! In addition to serving on pasta, this (and all) pestos are wonderful on pizza, slathered on tomato slices, as a raw veggie dip or sandwich spread. Or use pesto as a garnish for soups, potatoes, and casseroles.

Most pestos are made with basil and parmesan cheese. This recipe calls for garlic scapes and is dairy-free.

In the photo above gluten-free penne was tossed with garlic scape pesto, chopped tomatoes, and olives. The tomatoes and olives were first warmed in a bit of olive oil.

Garlic scapes growing in the garden
What are garlic scapes?

In early June, the hardneck varieties of garlic send up stalks from the center of each plant. These are called garlic scapes; they are thicker than the leaves and are edible. The scape, if left on the plant, forms a flower and then seeds. Growers cut off the scapes so that the plants send all of their energy to the garlic bulbs, instead of putting energy towards the production of flowers and seeds.

My husband has been growing hardneck garlic and cutting off the scapes for many seasons. If you don’t grow your own, you may be able to find scapes at your local market. This is the time to look. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy them each spring! It’s well worth the effort since scapes are very tasty – they have a delightful mild garlic flavor. Plus they boast many of the nutritional benefits of garlic, including being a powerhouse of antioxidants and cancer fighting properties.

Scapes are delicious when grilled, and can be added to soups and stir fries. But they are especially well-suited for making garlic scape pesto.


Method Overview

  • Cut garlic scapes
  • Steam the scapes (unless they are young and tender)
  • Toast pine nuts
  • Blend scapes, pine nuts, water, and seasonings in food processor
  • Stir in olive oil

Garlic Scape Pesto over penne pasta
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Garlic Scape Pesto (Dairy-Free)

Course: main course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: corn-free, gluten-free, grain-free, plant based, soy-free, vegan, wheat-free
Servings: 1 cup pesto

Equipment

  • Food processor, preferably one with a small bowl (or blender/bullet blender – see note below)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped garlic scapes, 10 to 15 scapes
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, extra virgin or virgin

Instructions

Prepare Scapes

  • Trim away the tip of each scape just below the flower bud (see photo below). Discard or save for making vegetable broth.
  • Cut the remaining scapes into 1-inch pieces.
  • Steam older scapes for about two minutes (see note below). Reserve the water to use in the recipe.

Toast Pine Nuts

  • Warm up a small, dry cast iron skillet (or other heavy-bottomed skillet) over medium-low heat. The idea is to warm up the skillet, but don’t overheat.
  • When the skillet is warm, increase the heat to medium-high and add the pine nuts. Toast, while stirring and shaking, for about a minute, or until they begin to give off a nutty aroma and turn a bit golden.

Prepare Pesto

  • Add the scapes, pine nuts, water, lemon juice, salt, and peppers to the food processor.
  • Process for a few minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl with a soft spatula as needed.
  • Using a soft spatula, scrape the pesto into a bowl. Fold or gently whisk the olive oil into the pesto until well combined.

Notes

  • If you don’t have a food processor, you can make this pesto in a blender or bullet blender – but you will have to stop blending every few seconds to scrape the jar or cup with a soft spatula.
  • Scapes develop a sharper flavor the longer they are left on the plant. Young and tender scapes are more mellow and even sweet. If you have young and tender scapes it isn’t necessary to steam them when making pesto.
 
This recipe makes enough pesto to dress 12 to 16 ounces of pasta.
Trim away the tip of each scape just below the flower bud. 

Optional Omnivore Variation

Serve garlic scape pesto pasta with grated cheese, such as pecorino romano or parmesan.

If You Enjoy This Recipe

You may also enjoy my Nut-Free Dairy-Free Pesto.

2 Comments

  • Anonymous
    June 29, 2020 at 8:18 pm

    5 stars
    This turned out great! I’ve been making garlic scape pesto for years, but always with cheese. I’ve been trying to eat more vegan meals, so was happy to find this recipe. I feel it was just as good or better than previous recipes I’ve made with dairy I now them. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Judy DeLorenzo
    June 29, 2020 at 8:28 pm

    I’m so happy to hear! What a great compliment – thank you 🙂

    Reply

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