I'm pretty picky about pesto. I feel a little guilty for my high standards, but I honestly usually don't enjoy pesto unless I make it. My most common complaint is that it doesn't have a strong enough basil flavor. That's why the sweet basil pesto recipe I posted last summer calls for so much basil! Ironically, this recipe is pretty much the opposite from that, but I LOVE it. I actually adjusted it slightly from a recipe a family friend used when I was visiting them a couple summers ago. The family owns their own garlic farm, and apparently you have to harvest the scapes (which are these alluring, spiral stems- lots of pictures to come because I'm obsessed with their beauty- that sprout in the middle of June; picture below!) from the garlic plants to improve your garlic harvest because it forces the plant to send it's energy into increasing the bulb size rather than towards the maturation of the the flower and seed that result from the scape if left on the plant.

Anyways, with all of the scapes they harvested, they decided to experiment with using scapes in place of garlic in pesto! At first I was skeptical because the recipe calls for basil on the order of leaves rather than the order of cups of leaves, but then I realized that the pesto isn't featuring the basil- it's featuring the scape! And then... I think I became addicted to it. I ate it on pasta, bread, salad, vegetables, even oatmeal! So, when I saw garlic scapes at the farmers market last weekend, I couldn't resist making it myself. Who knows if that was a good or bad idea- my diet currently once again revolves around garlic scape pesto! Be warned that this pesto is amazing, but it is quite garlicky! You can always cut back on the scapes if you aren't a huge garlic fan, though. But, I'd have to call you crazy. Two notes: I tested the recipe with toasted almonds versus toasted sunflower seeds and I prefer the latter, but it'll still taste great if you only have almonds on hand and want to use those. I also would suggest using a fine olive oil for pesto- no matter the recipe- because I've found that the quality of the pesto directly correlates with the quality of the olive oil!

garlic scape pesto

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (you can substitute with Romano if that's more convenient)
1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
juice from half a lemon
2 garlic scapes
5 basil leaves
3/4 cup fine olive oil 

Place all ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Turn the food processor on and gradually pour the olive oil through the pour spout and process until completely incorporated. Store in a jar in the refrigerator (good for about three weeks) or freezer (I've used pesto that's been in the freezer for a year and it's still great!) or serve right away! Embrace the addiction if it hits you like it hit me!

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