I’m allergic to nuts – walnuts, peanuts, pine nuts – all nuts. Period. No exceptions. No, I’m not gonna swell up and die if you’re eating PB&J near me but my allergy sometimes cramps my style.
Pesto is one of those things that I love but can rarely eat out because of the nut situation. My recipe is nut-free and uses garlic scapes.
What’s a garlic scape? It’s the shoot that grows in the middle of a garlic plant that, if left to grow, will cause the garlic to flower.
If you’re at a farmer’s market in the spring, you’ve probably seen them. This is what they look like.
This is how I make the pesto. NOTE: If you’re looking for an exact recipe, you won’t find it here. This is all about combining the flavors and texture the way YOU like it. Okay, you’ve read the disclaimer. On to the recipe.
You’ll need about a cup or so of scapes with the flower heads trimmed and then cut into 1″-2″ pieces, a handful of fresh basil leaves, about a cup of freshly grated parmesan, olive oil, salt and pepper and a food processor.
Whir up the scapes and basil. You don’t want it too smooth just yet. Now add the parmesan and a lot of black pepper. Process a little more. Now taste it. Does it need more salt or pepper? Go ahead and adjust as you see fit and whir it up. Now, with the food processor running, add in the olive oil until it’s, well, pesto.
So now that you’ve got this wonderful stuff, what are you gonna do with it? Pretty much whatever you want! Spread on bread and eat, top a freshly grilled steak with it (it’s wonderful on swordfish too!), throw in a soup. Go nuts! (Pun intended.)
I made something I call ‘Spring on a Plate’ with it. Again, this is not a real recipe. It’s just what comes to mind when I think of what gets harvested early in the season – things like ramps, fiddle heads, peas and garlic scapes.
My version of Spring on a Plate the other night was a combination of angel hair pasta (cooked al dente with some of the pasta water reserved), tossed with garlic scape pesto and a handful of fresh, tender sugar snap peas (lightly steamed). Add just enough of the pasta water to make a quick sauce, turn onto a platter and top with more pesto, parmesan and red pepper flakes. Simple! And it really does taste like spring.
You can store the unused pesto in the fridge.