dinner, Recipes

garlic scape, spinach + pepitas pesto

A versatile pesto that is easy to make and packs a ton of flavor.

Our friends are kind of the best. They ventured over to H Mart (a large Korean grocery store in Niles, IL that I LOVE) and came home with too much produce. That means we got a bag of delicious bok choy and garlic scapes delivered to us – heck yeah! We are such foodie nerds that really you could bring us any food item at all and we’d be pretty stoked.

I love bok choy – simply prepared – seared on the grill or in a hot cast iron pan and tossed with a little chili oil. Easy peasy. But this garlic scape situation was totally new to me. So I bopped around my cupboard and found pumpkin seeds at the ready, and I had spinach and lemon in the fridge, so garlic scape pesto it was!

Trust me when I saw this recipe is BOLD with flavor, which I think is great because you can get multiple uses out of one batch of pesto since a little goes a long way.

We first used the garlic scape pesto on simple grilled shrimp on top of some creamy polenta which was an amazing combo. Then we tossed it with linguine and parmesan and that was delicious too. You could also use this on an Italian sub, some grilled bread, or a tomato sandwich or in eggs, or with seafood, chicken or pasta – the sky is the limit!

Uh, also, if you’re here being all “what the heck is a garlic scape?” – see below!

Garlic Scape Pesto on Shrimp atop Polenta
Spinach, garlic scape + lemon pesto on grilled shrimp laying on top of creamy polenta.
Garlic Pesto Linguini with Parmesan Cheese

What is a garlic scape?

Honestly, I had to look it up. Basically a garlic scape is the shoot that comes up out of the ground from the bulb of garlic. They look like long green curly stalks and have a small flower bulb at the top of the shoot. They are typically available at the end of spring and into early summer.

Of course garlic scapes have a garlic flavor, but they also have a slight onion-y thang going on as well. They taste a bit more vibrant than straight up garlic cloves. And let me include a warning here that the garlic flavor in the pesto only grows more powerful over time.

To prepare them for use, just rinse them under water to remove and grit and snip off the roughest part of the bottom (similar to asparagus) and snip off the flower bulb. For my recipe below, you just chop them up into 1 inch pieces or so and toss ’em in the food processor.

I hope you are able to find some garlic scapes and give this one a try! It really was fun to have around to toss into this and that.

Garlic scape, spinach, lemon and pepitas pesto.

Garlic Scape + Pepitas Pesto

This flavorful pesto can be used on almost anything for an extra kick of bold flavor.
Prep Time 2 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course, Sauce
Cuisine American, Spring Recipe, Summer Recipe
Servings 10


  • Food Processor


  • 12-14 Garlic Scapes
  • 1/4 Cup Pepitas
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Spinach
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 Lemon (juice of)
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil (+3-4 Tbs depending on thickness)


  • Clean and trim the garlic scapes by rinsing them under water and trimming off the flower bulb and the roughest part of the bottom.
  • Slice into one inch pieces.
  • Add the garlic scapes and all other ingredients, except for the olive oil to the food processor.
  • Start to pulse the mixture and pour in the olive oil slowly until you have used the 1/2 cup. If the mixture is too thick, continue adding olive oil until the mixture is smooth but not totally liquid-y. This took me about 2 minutes running the food processor on low to be the texture I was looking for.
  • Once all set to your desired consistency, remove from the food processor and use in one of the quick recipes I list below or rock your own concoction!


If you’d like to use this pesto for shrimp (for two people), add 2 tablespoons of the pesto to a sauce pan over medium heat and add 10 peeled and cleaned large shrimp to the pan. Add a glug of olive oil or pad of butter to the pan if the pesto needs loosening. Sauté this until the shrimp are cooked through but not overdone. This will depend on the size of the shrimp, but mine were good to go at about 2ish minutes a side. These would be fab on their own, but I served them on top of polenta and they were delish.
To make this with linguine or any pasta, I basically used 1-2 tablespoons per serving depending on how strong you want the flavor to come through. I cooked the pasta until al dente and then tossed the pasta in a sauce pan over medium heat with the pesto and a smidge of butter. Season to taste and top with grated parmesan. YUM.
Keyword Dinner Idea, Dinner Recipe, Easy Pesto Recipe, Garlic Recipe, Garlic Scape Pesto, Garlic Scapes, Pepitas Pesto, Pesto, Pesto Linguini Recipe, Pesto Pasta Recipe, Pesto Shrimp Recipe, Pumpkin Seed Pesto, Shrimp Dinner Recipe, Spring Pesto Recipe

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