Garlic Scape Pesto from The Garlic Farm in West Granby

41
6

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Recently, my mom and I took a little road trip around the countryside in Northern Connecticut. When we happened across The Garlic Farm in West Granby, we knew we had to pull in and investigate. Here’s a photo tour of the farm, a bunch of info on garlic scapes (including how to cook them), plus a super simple recipe for some of the most garlicky, mouthwatering pesto you’ve ever had.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Now, it’s going to sound silly, but garlic is one of those things that kind of seems like it just…you know…appears. I’ve never really given much thought to the plant that it comes from—or the idea that there might be whole farms dedicated to growing the stuff.


I certainly had no idea what a garlic scape was or what to do with it in the kitchen.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

A basket of garlic scapes at The Garlic Farm in West Granby, CT

Wait, let me back up and set the scene.

How can you resist this sign?

So Mom and I were driving along. We had just come from Wilhelm Farmstand. I’m not sure how any garlic-lover could pass this sign without stopping.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

This sign cinched it for us, though. Mom and I looked at each other, both with the same thought: What the heck is a scape?

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

We turned down the dirt road, and made our way to the barn which was nestled at the end of two swaths of tall, arching trees.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

What is a garlic scape, anyways?

A garlic scape, as it turns out, is a flowering stalk that shoots wildly off a garlic plant.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

It’s long and thin, and twists into a whimsical curly-que.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

We parked and made a beeline for the rows of green baskets outside.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

They were overflowing with garlic scapes. As we got closer to the barn, there was just the mildest hint of fresh garlic on the breeze. My mouth started to water just a little and I immediately wondered: “How do I cook these things, because they must be amazing?”

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Garlic farmers cut the scape off so that the garlic plant can concentrate on making the garlic bulb bigger.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

The scape itself looks kind of like a coiled, green rubber tube.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

If left on the plant, the end will eventually explode into a pretty purple flower. You can see the beginning of the flower bulging here:

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

When you cut into them, they kind of have the consistency of fresh, young asparagus. They have a fabulous and green garlicky scent.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Inside the barn at The Garlic Farm

The farm itself is in a charming, converted tobacco barn.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

There are tobacco barns all over this part of Connecticut. Quite literally, they’re barns in which tobacco leaves are hung to dry. Today, the barn’s rafters are used to hang and dry The Garlic Farm’s impressive harvest of organic garlic.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Tobacco barns are really neat and can be surprisingly bright inside, since every other slat on the barn is hinged and opens. (This was originally to help get enough air to the tobacco leaves.)

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

A hinged slat on The Garlic Farm’s barn

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Inside, they sell a handful of seasonal, native produce. In fact, the farm is having a tomato tasting in early August. They’ll have about a dozen varieties of tomatoes to sample.

(The Garlic Farm is located at 76 Simsbury Road in West Granby, Connecticut. For more information, visit their website or call 860-653-0291.)

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

As delicious as the strawberries looked, though, we were there for the garlic scapes.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Into the garlic fields!

I took a walk out to the garlic field, to take a peek at the plants firsthand.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

As I got closer, I could see the garlic scapes twirling around.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Here’s one up close:

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

On the edge of the field, we spotted a few Swallowtail butterflies, stopping for a mineral-rich, muddy drink.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

How to cook with garlic scapes

As it turns out, the good folks at The Garlic Farm not only grow and sell organic garlic and garlic scapes, they do a fair amount of education about them, too. All their garlic is grown from seed and is organic.

(Gary Cirullo, the owner, signed the Connecticut NOFA pledge, which means he’s committed to running his farm with sound economic and ecologic principles.)

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Mom and I spent a fair amount of time talking to Nancy Dunn, who was there minding the scapes.

Garlic scapes, she told us, are really very versatile. You can grind them up into pesto, grill them like asparagus, saute them and serve them in salads or sides, and even eat them raw. You can also blanche and freeze them. (Not to mention keep them fresh in water *and* have a pretty striking centerpiece for your dinner table.)

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Hmmm. Pesto, eh? My wheels started to turn. We bagged up a half-a-pound and headed home.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Don’t miss the garlic scapes!

The Garlic Farm will be running its Garlic Scape Weekend for one last weekend, on June 20-21. If you’re in the area, definitely swing by. (For more information, visit their website or call 860-653-0291.)

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Phew! That concludes today’s lesson on garlic scapes. On to the pesto!

How to make garlic scape-based pesto

This is some of the garlic-iest stuff I’ve ever had in my life. It’s packed with fresh garlic flavor that’s tempered by generous amounts of grated Parmesan and high-quality extra virgin olive oil.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

A handful of pine nuts deepens the flavor and adds a little, well, nuttiness.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

A little goes a long way. Toss it in pasta. Slather it on sandwiches. Use it as a dip for raw veggies. Thin it out with more olive oil and a little lemon juice for a fabulous impromptu salad dressing. In short, treat it like regular pesto. It won’t disappoint.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Garlic Scape Pesto

1/2 lb. garlic scapes (about 15 scapes)
3/4 cup grated parmesan
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
juice from half a lemon

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

Wash and chop the garlic scapes

Grab your garlic scapes. (Say that 10 times fast.)

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Rinse them well under cold water and towel them dry.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Chop them up roughly, so they fit better in the bowl of your food processor.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Grind the garlic scape pesto

Put the scapes into the bowl of your food processor.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Toss in the Parmesan.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Add the pine nuts.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Cap your food processor and pulse it a handful of times.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

You want the ingredients to be roughly chopped, like this:

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

With your food processor running on low, drizzle in the olive oil.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Process the pesto until it’s thick, creamy, and fairly smooth, like this:

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Squeeze in your lemon. (Traditional pestos don’t include lemon, but I’m glad I added it. It gave the pesto a nice brightness. Add it or leave it out…totally your call.)

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Your finished pesto should be able to hold its own on a fork. (If you like your pesto thinner, add more olive oil.)

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Scrape the pesto out into a bowl. Garnish with pine nuts, if you like.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

The pesto should keep for about a month in the fridge, well wrapped. Like all pesto, it will separate. Just give it a stir before serving.

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Enjoy!

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

Garlic Scape Pesto at The Hungry Mouse

 

SHARE
Previous articleLamb Sliders with Rosemary & Mint
Next articleSteakhouse-Style Pan-Roasted Sirloin Steaks
Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

41 COMMENTS

    • Thanks, Olga!

      And…oh! Go back and grab some! They’re only out for a little while! Tons of fun. If I get more, I’m going to grill them, I think.

      +Jessie

  1. I absolutely love the roual farmers markets.The markets in the city are OK but when you drive to a market and enjoy the country side it is even better.
    Garlic is a favorite- but we try not to use it too much.
    When we do – we will try this!
    Thanks Jessie

  2. I have never heard of a scape! Your post was educational and beautifully documented as well. It reminded me of the time I drove past Gilroy, CA which is the self-proclaimed garlic capital of the world. I could smell the garlicky scent from miles away, driving on the highway. But! There was no mention of scapes.

    I found you on TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that arent accepted there, Id love to publish them. Visit my new site (below), its a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.

    Best,
    Casey
    Editor
    http://www.tastestopping.wordpress.com

  3. I love garlic scapes. I used to eat them all the time…they were a popular item in Ithaca, NY’s farmer’s markets and restaurants.

    To make your own garlic scape spice so you can enjoy their flavor throughout the year, you can cut them into small pieces and dehydrate them.

    After they are completely dried, just grind them in a clean spice or coffee mill if you prefer your spice to be a powdery texture.

    Or leave them as they are for a chive like spice texture.

    So good!

    • Oh, brilliant! This is right up my alley! (Witness, porcini powder!) Now I just need to get my paws on some here in Boston. I used all the scapes I got at the farm in this pesto.

      Cheers!
      +Jessie

    • Thanks, Terry!

      I’ve been looking for green garlic here in Boston, but haven’t seen any that looks good yet. :/ I’ll have to sniff around some more this weekend. That linguine sounds amazing!

      +Jessie

    • Thanks, Hillary, honey! Yeah, The Garlic Farm is fabulous. I hope I can get back there when they have their actual garlic ready for sale. If I do, I’ll definitely write about it.

      +Jessie

  4. I discovered scapes last year… and was anxiously awaiting their return. Just bought some today at the Boston Farmer’s Market. Love scape pesto, white bean and scape dip, grilled scapes, and yes, scape centerpieces. Thanks for the tour of the farm.

    • Thanks! (And thanks for stopping by!)

      So glad so many folks have been discovering scapes! (And yes, seriously. Long live the scape centerpiece. So striking!)

      +Jessie

  5. What beautiful, bright pictures! I’ll have to look for scapes around here.

    And I appreciate possible pesto alternatives. Every year since about 1995 I’ve tried to grow basil and wound up with herbs too bitter to eat.

    Thanks for posting!

    • Thanks so much! Hope you find some! The season is relatively short, I think, but they’re well worth seeking out.

      And, hmmmm…..Bitter basil. Let me think on that. I usually have a nice fat bunch growing and haven’t run into that before.

      +Jessie

    • Thanks so much, Michelle! Yeah, I had no idea what they were…it was a lot of fun to visit the farm. And the pesto was totally to die for, if you like garlic. 😀

      +Jessie

  6. oh sweet, an actual scape pesto recipe! i’ve heard the idea a lot lately, but no real recipe. i’ve gotten these from my csa two weeks now, and i’m a bad csa-er and haven’t tackled them yet. time for pesto! do you think this would be good as a basil-scape pesto?

    by the way, i would be surprised if the farmer’s markets didn’t have scapes by now. the markets around here (NYC) have had them for at least two weeks, i think?

  7. […] A Trip to the Garlic Farm / Garlic Scape Pesto – I substituted pistachios where it calls for pine nuts. Be aware – this is strong stuff. A single spoonful is enough to coat an entire pot of pasta with enough garlic flavor to make people not want to talk to you for the rest of the day. This recipe should make enough for about ten meals. […]

  8. Thanks for your wonderful tour of the garlic farm. This is my third year of making and enjoying garlic scape pesto. It also freezes nicely in quart bags(lay flat in freezer) or use ice cube trays. If you use the cube method, once frozen wrap in plastic wrap, and store in large Ziploc bag in the freezer for a handy portion to grab and use anyway you like!

  9. Thank you so much for this post! My grandfather went to the farmers market this morning and picked some up and I had no idea what they were are how to use them! This was very informative, and I am looking forward to the pesto!

  10. Your re-post is timely! I’ve gotten garlic scapes in my last 2 CSA shares and have been struggling for what to do with them. Thanks for the recipe!

  11. Aggghhh- I saw them at the Stan Hywet Farmers market Thursday night but didn’t buy. Maybe they will have them again next week? I did buy- fresh lettuce, Englis Breakfast radises, sugar snap peas and 2 t bone steaks- grass fed organic beef. Also one guy threw in some swiss chard. ( I guess he didn’t want to take it home….)

  12. We’re in Ohio, not CT, and are now enjoying our first garlic scapes this season. Although our farm concentrates on organic (mostly) heirloom varieties of tomatoes, we also grow other things for our little CSA and market. We planted about 1000 cloves last year to sell this year, with many of the varieties being good scape producers. WOW. I made them stired briefly with red choi and lime juice for lunch and oh YUM! Next up is garlic pesto, thanks to your beautifully illustrated recipe!

  13. Do I cut the bulb like flowers off? I’m about to put it in my cuisinart and I think it looks like you may have left some on in one of your pics. But in another pic it looks like you cut those “flowers” off.

    What to do with that end of the scrap. Have gotten in my CSA for a few weeks now and have used the flower parts and some stems as onions because I didn’t know that that bulb was litterally a “flower.”

    Thanks.

  14. We first made your recipe last season and got addicted to garlic scapes fast. YUM!! This season, we have been selling scapes at our local farmers market, and I have been pointing folks to your site for the recipe. I hope you do not mind, but on our market info website recipe area I have put up a link to your site and recipe directing people to come here for what is the best and clearest description of the recipe and the process. There is no way I could improve on the wonderful job you did! Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us.

LEAVE A REPLY