29 May 2013 7:43 AM
Arugula & Garlic Scape Pesto


Arugula & Garlic Scape Pesto on Sourdough Wheat Bread

Ah, spring.  That time when all the edible greens make an appearance.  Unlike spinach, which doesn’t seem to grow around here, we have an abundance of two things:  Mustard greens and arugula.  D and I just can’t seem to figure out why arugula is so expensive.  It grows like a weed and is really bitter.  Each spring, and fall for that matter, I can be heard lamenting, “What am I supposed to do with all this arugula?”  Currently there are a couple of pounds of the stuff in our spare refrigerator.

Last year I discovered arugula pesto which is better than it sounds.  Or maybe, just as good as it sounds depending on your tolerance for a peppery bite.  Yesterday D picked the garlic scapes.  You can usually find garlic scapes at the farmers markets in the spring.  They are what will turn into the flower of a garlic plant.  You pick them so that the plant puts all its energy into growing the garlic instead of making a beautiful flower.

Garlic Flower
[Garlic Flower - not ours.  We never let our garlic get to this stage.]

With fresh scapes in the house, I decided to incorporate them into some arugula pesto instead of using the more typical garlic.  At first, I thought it might not the best idea since scapes are a delicate garlic flavor and arugula packs the punch of a lifetime.  But I think raw garlic would have added to the pungency and the scapes may have mellowed it.

Garlic Scapes, Parmesan Cheese, Arugula & Walnuts
[Left to Right:  Garlic Scapes, Parmesan, Arugula & Walnuts]

I made 4+ cups and froze most of it.  Sometime in December our lament will change to, “Arugula pesto, again?”

Note:  I never measure pesto anymore.  Just dump and taste.  Pesto is ultimately forgiving and any variation is delicious.


Arugula & Garlic Scape Pesto with Lemon Zest

Arugula & Garlic Scape Pesto

Arugula, as much as you need to use
Salt, a generous pinch or two
Walnuts, a couple handfuls toasted in a dry pan over med-low heat
Garlic scapes, as much as you need to use
Olive oil, enough until you like the texture
Parmesan cheese, grated
Lemon, juiced & zested

If you want to rid yourself of some of the “bitter”, de-stem the arugula.  I stuff it in the food processor as is, stems and all.  Add a pinch of salt, some walnuts and the garlic scapes.  Pulse or run on low, or high.  Push down the sides with a scraper.  If the food processor just starts spinning and doesn’t continue to chop leaves, start adding oil though the tube.  Let it go for a bit – keep adding oil until you like the consistency, and add a little more oil for safe measure.

Put the mixture into a bowl and make some more if you have more arugula to use up.  For the large bowl I made, I ran the processor twice; adding extra arugula after each batch was chopped.

Add the parmesan and mix.  Add some lemon juice and zest.  Keep adding lemon/zest until it takes a bit of the bite out of the arugula.  Trust me, lemon juice is arugula’s best friend.

The pesto can be eaten tossed with noodles, as a spread on a nice sourdough loaf (thanks D!), or a topping for any meats – strong enough for steak – go light on fish or chicken.  It can also be frozen to use during the winter.



The Worleys