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Garlic Scape and Mess O’ Greens Pesto

Curly dark green garlic scapes in this week’s farm share box inspired this garlic scape and mess o’ greens pesto. This pesto’s spicy green garlicky flavor and vibrant emerald color is nothing short of outrageous! 

Garlic Scape and Mess O' Greens Pesto in bowl with crackers

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Make your garlic scape pesto with a dark leafy green of your choice, the spicier the better. Mess 0′ greens is a mix of mustard greens with other bitter spicy greens and is particulary nice with the scapes.

scapes, greens, cheese, walnuts and olive oil, the ingredients for Garlic Scape and Mess O' Greens Pesto

Classically, pesto is 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.

Standing in for mature garlic cloves, this pesto features garlic scapes.

And standing in for basil, mess o’ greens is a wild card and a fun match for the scapes. A Southern U.S staple, mess o’ greens is a spicy mix of mustard greens and other bitter greens, maybe arugula, beet greens, collards, mizuna, or kale. If you can’t find mess o’ greens, make your pesto with spicy mustard greens only, or swap in another bitter-style green.

scapes, blanched greens, walnuts and cheese in food processor ready to blend into Garlic Scape and Mess O' Greens Pesto

What are garlic scapes?

  • Scapes are the aboveground reproductive part of hard-neck garlic. To allow the garlic bulb to grow larger, garlic farmers cut the green shoots from the developing bulbs. In the last few years, the mellow garlicky scapes have ascended from lowly by-product and become spring’s sought after treasures.
  • In the spring you’ll find garlic scapes at farmer’s markets, or if you grow garlic, in your garden. I’ve seen scapes packaged and sold for a small fortune in fancy supermarkets.
  •  Scapes might look innocent, but they pack the garlic bite you want in pesto. 
  • To use the garlic scapes in pesto, pasta, and salads, 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 and chop the tender parts.

A quick drop of the leafy greens into boiling water followed immediately by a shock of ice water preserves this pesto’s vivid green color and softens the leafy green’s bitter tang. Homemade basil pesto begins to oxidize the moment you scrape it out of the bowl but garlic scape and mess ‘o greens pesto keeps its emerald brilliance!

Garlic Scape and Mess O' Greens Pesto in food processor ready to eat

Garlic scape and mess o’ greens pesto recipe notes:

  • When blanched, eight ounces of raw greens shrinks to about 1 cup of wilted greens.
  • This pesto is quick and easy to make in a food processor. (affiliate link)
  • Spread this garlicky spicy pesto on pizza dough followed with your favorite pizza toppings.
  • Like this recipe, I usually use walnuts in my pesto sauce; they are a lot less expensive than pinenuts, the classic nut for Italian basil pesto.
  • This pesto freezes well. I freeze it in small containers and it’s there when I want to stir some into soup, make a quick pasta dinner, or as mentioned, as a flavor base for pizza.

Traditional or crazy creative, there’s nothing like zippy garlicky pesto for brightening food. It’s a fabulous crostini or cracker spread. Swirled into hot pasta, it’s an instant sauce. Slathered on homemade pizza it’s a perfect flavor base for the rest of your toppings. Garlic scape and mess o’ greens pesto or for that matter, any pesto variation is also delicious with burgers.

You’ll find more than one pesto recipe here on the blog. 🙂

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5 from 1 vote
Garlic Scape and Mess O' Greens Pesto
Garlic Scape and Mess O’ Greens Pesto
Prep Time
10 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! Makes about 1 3/4 cups pesto.

Course: Appetizer, Condiment
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Keyword: pesto, garlic scapes, mess o' greens
Servings: 8 servings.
Calories: 219 kcal
Author: Letty Flatt
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces mess o’ greens or other bitter greens
  • 1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes (see note)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea 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 about 30 seconds. 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.

Nutrition Facts
Garlic Scape and Mess O’ Greens Pesto
Amount Per Serving
Calories 219 Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value*
Fat 20g31%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 4mg1%
Sodium 232mg10%
Potassium 148mg4%
Carbohydrates 6g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 1000IU20%
Vitamin C 26.8mg32%
Calcium 118mg12%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

12 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

  • […] might also like this recipe for garlic scape and greens pesto. Here’s one with red lentils and garlic […] Reply · 15 April, 2018

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