Join us in celebrating the end of spring with garlic scape pesto and a quick meal of sourdough cheddar waffle sandwiches!
Granted, the speed of life ebbs and flows. But there is something speedy about spring to summer, as the garden boosts into production, the grass grows faster than you can mow and the long days make us ever so productive. In our young married days, we would stretch those days as long as they could go and spend every minute in the daylight. As a result, dinner would be a frozen pizza or a bowl of cereal and we were happy as clams.
Toddler says, uh no. Dinner is still at 6:30 summer or winter, mom. And while I can give myself small pats on the back for growing in my evening time management and preparedness, the need for quick, tasty meals. Thankfully, the spring is the queen of greens, tomatoes and… garlic scapes!
What are Garlic Scapes?
Garlic comes in two types: soft neck or hard neck. Within these categories, there are many many varieties, but the structure of the clove is described by “soft” or “hard”. A soft neck garlic head has many large cloves of garlic that get smaller towards the core. A hard neck garlic has few large cloves that surround a stalk. This stalk is a “scape”, which, if left to bloom, becomes a flower. The scape is a shoot that uses the energy of the garlic cloves to create a green, curly, twisty spindle that indicates the head of garlic is near harvesting.
My mom loves to include the flowers into her cut bouquets because they resemble ginormous pom-poms, but I will always opt to cut the scapes pre-bloom for garlic scape pesto.
What is Pesto?
Pesto, in general, is a combination of basil leaves, cheese, salt, garlic and olive oil. Some recipes call for pine nuts that add a tang, some call for walnuts for a smooth and spreadable consistency. Regardless, it is salty and garlicky and mouthwatering. I truly believe I could find a way to eat it every meal of the day.
Because of its olive oil content, pesto is something that is easy to freeze! My favorite trick is to oil coat a reusable ice tray and spoon in pesto, then freeze. After set, I pop the cubes into a freezer bag so they are ready to grab for a slice of toast or a bowl of pasta.
Garlic scape pesto changes the game – it uses the scape of garlic as substitute for both the basil leaves and the garlic. I find this a game changer because basil is ever so heat loving, and when scapes are available, my dwarfed basil plants are still refusing to produce.
Garlic Scapes to Supper
When my mom’s scapes popped up, I told her to throw them in a cup of water and get them here asap. I had never tried scape pesto, nonetheless made it, but was very eager to do so. I flipped through a few cookbooks in search of a specific recipe, but ended up going with a “I don’t have all those ingredients, but does it matter?” version of Vanilla & Bean’s garlic scape pesto recipe. (Am I the only one out there fudging my way to deliciousness?)
Her recipe called for pine nuts and gave a few cheese options, but I of course only had a handful of walnuts and a few cashews and a hunk of Costco parmesan. Not so romantic, but we worked with it.
My husband said it was the best thing he’s ever tasted, and he loves to eat. It had the umami of regular pesto, with a horseradish like heat. A little went a long way! You can find Vanilla & Bean’s complete recipe here, and my abbreviated one below:
Garlic Scape Pesto:
⅓ cup of nuts
⅓ cup of parmesan
Juice of ½ a lemon or 2 teaspoons
⅓ cup of olive oil
- Trim off both ends of each garlic scape, rinse and pat dry.
- Combine scapes, nuts, cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil to a food processor and puree until smooth.
- Add additional olive oil to achieve desired consistency, and add salt and pepper to taste.
- To store, try freezing in a reusable ice cube tray or in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.
Quick Dinner, Served
The pesto made for an excellent afternoon activity for my toddler and I, though he was more interested in eating minced garlic from the jar than the actual combination. The husband called on his way home, and the race for dinner was on. A toddler cannot live on garlic alone.
I remembered a video by Farmhouse on Boone that I’d binged earlier, in which she made sourdough cheddar waffles. I also had lettuce from a neighbor, the first of our tomatoes and bacon. Within 5 minutes, we had a “second afternoon activity” crisping up in the waffle maker and mind you, just one pan to clean for dinner. (and that was from bacon, so it’s forgivable…)
We halved Lisa’s recipe for our spontaneous dinner, and because I don’t store that much sourdough starter at a time. Her full recipe and suggestions can be found here…
Cheddar Waffles BLT’s
2 cups of sourdough starter
5 tablespoons of oil – We used olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup of shredded cheddar
1 teaspoon of baking soda
- Combine 1 cup of starter with eggs, oil, salt and shredded cheddar. Note: If short starter, add remaining missing amount with a 50/50 combination of flour and water and add an additional ½ tsp of salt. This won’t have the digestive benefits of long fermented sourdough, but will stretch your batter in a pinch.
- Once ready to bake, add your baking soda, mix and add to a greased waffle iron.
- After the waffles have cooked, spread a thin layer of garlic scape pesto on one half of the waffle. Remember, a little can go a long way!
- Top with lettuce, tomato and bacon, or be adventurous with sliced onion, pickled pepperoncinis and gouda!
The next evening, we used the remaining pesto in pasta and the bright and spicy spring treat was a memory to carry us to next year. Sigh, grow basil grow!
What other things would you use pesto on for a meal? For future summer meals, check out our Basil Pesto Recipe, or for a fun spring activity, braiding garlic!