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Garlic Scape and Mess O’ Greens Pesto

When both garlic scapes and mess o’ greens showed up in our CSA box, they inspired this vibrant emerald garlicky pesto. This whole week Robbie and I have been going crazy over its spicy green bursts of flavor–every time we spread garlic scape and mess o’ greens pesto on a cracker and pop it into our mouth we say, “Wow, this is outrageous!”

Garlic Scape and Mess O' Greens Pesto

Pesto–you know–herbaceous basil, pungent garlic, and salty cheese pureed with fruity olive oil. These days the illustrious Italian condiment swings many ways; people make pesto with mint, cilantro, kale, arugula, or parsley–anything goes.

ingredients for Garlic Scape and Mess O' Greens Pesto

Here, standing in for basil, mess o’ greens is the wild card ingredient. The spicy mix of mustard greens and other bitter greens, maybe arugula, beet greens, collards, mizuna, or kale and such, is a Southern staple, or in our case a Ranui CSA regular. If your farmer doesn’t grow mess o’ greens, flavor your pesto with spicy mustard greens only, or swap in another bitter-style green, like kale.

for Garlic Scape and Mess O' Greens Pesto

Tubular curly scapes, the green shoots that poke out of garlic bulbs in spring, deliver the allium punch. Scapes might look innocent, but they pack plenty of the garlic bite you want in pesto. This time of year find garlic scapes at farmer’s markets, or perhaps right in your garden.

Traditional or crazy creative, there’s nothing like zippy garlicky pesto for brightening food. It’s a fabulous crostini or cracker spread. Swirl pesto into hot pasta for an instant sauce, or slather it on homemade pizza underneath the rest of the toppings. Garlic scape and mess o’ greens pesto jazzes up veggie burgers, and meat ones too.

Garlic Scape and Mess O' Greens Pesto

Recipe notes:

  • A quick blanch, a drop into boiling water followed by a shock of ice water, softens the green’s bitter tang and preserves this pesto’s vivid green color. (Basil pesto begins to oxidize the moment you scrape it out of the bowl.) Eight ounces of raw greens shrinks to about 1 cup of blanched greens.
  • Mortar and pestle–bowl and grinding stone–used to be the tools to pound greens and garlic into pesto. Nowadays pesto is quick and easy to make in a food processor.
  • I mostly use walnuts in pesto sauces; they are a lot less expensive than the pinenuts called for in classic Italian basil pesto. When you look around in cookbooks, on restaurant menus and blogs, you’ll notice pesto made with all kinds of other nuts and seeds. Here’s an interesting vegan cilantro pesto with pumpkin seeds. Yesterday I even overheard someone talking about cherry and pistachio pesto!

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P.S. You might want to try this basil arugula pesto on quinoa patties. And here’s a recipe for green chile pesto. If you have plenty of garlic scapes, make this red lentil salad.

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Garlic Scape and Mess O' Greens Pesto
Print
Garlic Scape and Mess O’ Greens Pesto
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
1 min
Total Time
15 mins
 
This zippy garlicky pesto brightens up food. Spread it on crostini, or thin it for instant pasta sauce. I like pesto as a spicy dip or slathered on homemade pizza underneath the rest of the toppings. You'll love garlic scape and mess o’ greens pesto on veggie burgers too!
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces mess o’ greens or other bitter greens
  • Heaping ½ cup chopped garlic scapes (see note)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon Real Salt
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Blanch the greens: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Have a bowl of ice water at the ready. Drop the greens into the boiling water and cook 30 seconds to a minute. Transfer to the bowl of ice water for a minute. Drain. Squeeze out the excess water with your hands.
  2. Chop the garlic scapes in a food processor. Add the blanched greens, the walnuts, cheese and salt. Process for about 10 seconds, stopping to move things around if they get hung up.
  3. With the machine running, pour oil through the feed tube in a thin stream, processing until everything is well blended.
Recipe Notes
Fold over the scape and snap off the less-tender woody end. It’s sort of like breaking off the tougher stringy bottom of asparagus. Discard the tougher portion of the scape.

11 comments

  • I love creative pesto like this one. I recently tried one with watercress. Nice tip about blanching I’ve never tried that before and I do hate a dull gray pesto. GREG Reply · 15 June, 2015

    • Letty

      You are the best! I look forward to meeting you one day! Reply · 15 June, 2015

  • HI Letty,
    We are also in Ranui’s CSA. So far we have had this fantastic pesto with chicken, on grilled mozzarella sandwiches, and on pasta with pinto beans this evening. Thank you for the great recipe! Reply · 15 June, 2015

    • Letty

      Thanks Jen! More recipes coming up today for you– Reply · 16 June, 2015

  • Teri Thomas

    The Cuisinart photo is worth a thousand words! Reply · 16 June, 2015

  • KATHRYN

    LETTY – I AM GOING FORAGING IN MY YARD THIS AFTERNOON – CAITLIN WILLARD OF SUMMIT LANDS OPEN SPACES SHARED HER PESTO RECIPE WITH ME USING THE OBNOXIOUS PC OLD TOWN WEED ” GARLIC MUSTARD.”{ IF FROM UNKNOWN SOURCE CHECK FOR HERBICIDE USAGE.} IT HAPPENS TO LOVE GROWING AMONGST MY FLOWERS. SEEMS EVERYTHING CAN BE TURNED INTO A PESTO. HAPPY SUMMER Reply · 16 June, 2015

    • Letty

      I got garlic mustard from a back yard about a month ago–you can use the stems and flower part in the pesto. It’s amazingly good. Reply · 16 June, 2015

  • kathryn deckert

    Cool. Thanks for the info. Reply · 16 June, 2015

  • […] week so I included them. >>>>>> Here’s a Garlic Scape and Greens pesto recipe that takes advantage of CSA veggies […] Reply · 25 June, 2015

  • […] scapes are also new to a lot of folks. Here’s a recipe for pesto made with garlic […] Reply · 12 July, 2015

  • […] might also like this Garlic Scape and Mess o’ Greens Pesto. Or these Caprese Veggie Patties with Basil Arugula […] Reply · 28 September, 2015

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