Garlic Scape Pesto

Written by Danielle Oteri

People get all excited about ramps, but scapes are a lot more fun, especially when you can use them in garlic scape pesto.

Garlic scapes look like they were invented by Cirque du Soleil. Or an alien. Or aliens performing Cirque du Soleil.

garlic scapes
Photo: Casey Barber

They are the quirky, twirly, tendrils from a young garlic bulb that have have just turned up in farmer’s markets and are in season throughout the summer.

I highly recommend that you buy as many as you can get your hands on.

The flavor is strong, but without the pungency of garlic. Think of scapes as the more mellow sibling to fully matured garlic cloves.

garlic scape pesto ingredients
Photo: Casey Barber

In other words, you’re still able to have a fabulous make-out session after a meal made with garlic scapes.

You can use them anywhere you’d typically use garlic in a recipe—and even in a few instances where you might use a scallion or shallot.

When I first discovered them last summer, I chopped them up and sauteed them with chard and kale in lieu of regular garlic.

Tonight, I mixed them into scrambled eggs. They’re also great with steamed clams and other seafood.

garlic scape pesto with basil
Photo: Casey Barber

This weekend, I’m going to make a trip to the Inwood farmer’s market and buy a few dozen to turn into garlic scape pesto, which I can freeze and use for months to come.

You can certainly mix this pesto with pasta, as most of us usually do, but I like to use it as a sandwich spread.

Garlic scape pesto—or any pesto, for that matter—is also delicious when stirred into a bean salad or pasta salad.

garlic scape pesto ingredients

Editor’s Note: If you are not allergic to walnuts and other tree nuts, you can always use them as a substitute for traditional pine nuts in this recipe. Did you know that pine nuts are seeds, not true nuts?

Unsalted pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds) also make a fine, budget-friendly substitute in any pesto—not just garlic scape pesto.

garlic scape pesto with basil

Garlic Scape Pesto

Yield: 1 heaping cup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Garlic scapes are the twirly tendrils from young garlic bulbs in season throughout the spring and summer. Try them in garlic scape pesto.


  • 5 garlic scapes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts or about 10 walnuts
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper


  1. Grind scapes, basil, and pine nuts or walnuts in a food processor, or mash with a mortar and pestle until the herbs and nuts dissolve into a smooth paste.
  2. Pulse or mix in the cheese and red pepper.
  3. Drizzle in the olive oil, pulsing or stirring until smooth and well blended.
  4. Add salt and pepper to your taste.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 509Total Fat: 53gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 41gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 352mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 7g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

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  1. Love this recipe. Here in Canada we call them ramps. If I remember correctly Otto in NYC does a great ramp pizza. They are great when roasted – they really sweeten up and I like to put them in omelettes too!

  2. thanks for this–i am also entangled in csa scapes! roasted some last week and snacked on them by themselves–so good. think i’ll try eggs ‘n scapes for breakfast tomorrow, and this recipe, for sure. and thanks to lara for the pizza idea, mmm!!

  3. I believe ramps and garlic scapes are very different. Both are wonderful, but they are different plants. I make pesto with both of them.

    1. Wino is right – ramps and scapes are two different (but both incredibly tasty) greens. Scapes are the flowering shoots put forth by members of the allium family – leeks, garlic, onions, and so on – with the small green buds, while ramps are essentially wild leeks and look like a cross between a leek and a scallion with white bulb roots. And yes, you can use both for pesto!

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