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All the rain in our area has been a curse on my garden. Don’t get me wrong – a little water goes a long way. But A LOT of water turns your tomato plants yellow and drowns your peppers. One thing a lot of water does, though, is make my lettuce, onions and garlic pop up in a big way. So the last couple of weeks, I’ve been able to use my first garden harvest: garlic scapes. In honour of this #pastatuesday, I turned those garlic scapes into a pasta accompaniment: garlic scape pesto.

Most of the times on this blog, I stick to old recipes, tried and true from my family. Once and a while, I try something new. I made garlic scape pesto for the first time last year and loved it. It has a strong garlic flavour, but if you like it a little weaker, it’s easy to balance out with nuts and cheese. Garlic scapes, for those new to the ingredient, are the curling tops of the garlic plants that are edible and should be picked before the flowering part opens.  To eat them raw, you should pick them when they begin to emerge from between the main garlic leaves, even before they start to curl, when they are still tender. Washed and chopped up, they are great in stir-frys or salads, offering a lighter garlic flavour than garlic bulbs. Mixed with classic Italian ingredients to make pesto, they are great on pastas but also on bread, brightening up crostini or sandwiches easily.

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Here are my recipes for garlic pesto, two ways. The first is with pine nuts, a take off of the classic basil pesto. The second (my favourite) is with pistachios which makes a great emerald green pesto. You can reduce or add ingredients to your taste, as long as your end creation is easily spreadable. If you find it too thick, add a bit more olive oil. These recipes make enough for two small glass jars each – or about four meals of pasta for two.
Garlic Scape Pesto with Pine Nuts
10 garlic scapes
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt to taste

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Clean your garlic scapes and chop them into small pieces. Toss, with the rest of the ingredients, in a food processor or mini chopper. Combine until smooth. Add more olive oil to thin out as needed. This pesto develops into a creamy, light green sauce.

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Garlic Scape Pesto with Pistachios
10 garlic scapes
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
salt (as needed, if you using unsalted pistachios)

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Again, clean your garlic scapes and chop them into small pieces. Shell your pistachios and try not to eat them all before making the pesto. The vibrant green and purple of the pistachios is always a huge draw for me to snack on these nuts, plus the colour is a great match for this pesto.

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It’s another easy preparation: all the ingredients get combined in a food processor or mini chopper. Whizz up until smooth. You’ll be left with some small bits of pistachio, which make for great texture. Use immediately, store in the fridge for up to one week or freeze for later use.

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