Basil and Garlic Scape Pesto (gluten free, nut free)


Okay, so my garden is growing like crazy, and I've been harvesting herbs non-stop. My crisper drawer overfloweth with basil, and thyme, and rosemary, and savory, and tarragon, and parsley, and lemon balm. The basil, however, really seems to be pulling out ahead of all the others. It is taking over my life.

Therefore, I have been making pesto like a madwoman. Each time it is a little different. Sometimes I'll throw in other herbs, like parsley or mint. Other times I add garlic, or garlic scapes. I've added sunflower seeds in place of pine nuts. And sometimes I'll keep it simple, and just use basil and a little garlic. Pesto is endlessly forgiving and flexible - as long as you are using good olive oil, you really can't go wrong. And, as this photo on the right shows, I am in love with olive oil (I am also in love with vintage aprons and my blender). My current favorite is Spectrum Organic Mediterranean Extra Virgin Olive Oil - especially when it is on sale at the co-op, like is is right now. : )

My friend Lauren is getting married in August, and I am in the bridal party. My friend Becky (another bridesmaid) and I threw her a bridal shower yesterday. When we were recipe planning, I thought that roasted vegetables with pesto sauce would be the perfect addition to the buffet table. So, I whipped up this wickedly garlicky version, which used garlic scapes from the farmer's market, and a little pecorino romano cheese. Pecorino romano is a hard Italian sheep's milk cheese, resembling parmigiano reggiano. Salty and sharp, it is the perfect addition to pesto. If you are dairy intolerant, feel free to leave it out - but if you can eat it, I'd recommend it.

The pesto was a hit at the bridal shower, nestled in the middle of a platter of rosemary roasted carrots, onions, asparagus, and baby scallopini squash, raw pea pods, and crispy rice-flour breaded eggplant slices. Everyone left with garlic breath and a belly full of vegetables. Now that's my kind of party.HINT OF THE DAY:

Freeze leftover pesto in ice cube trays (the bendy plastic ones in funky shapes from IKEA work like a charm). Measure how much liquid each cube holds so you know how much pesto is in each little chunk. Freeze until solid, then transfer pesto cubes to freezer bags for longer storage. Pre-measured pesto in a flash! It is an awesome way to have pesto on hand for whenever you want/need it.

BASIL AND GARLIC SCAPE PESTO (gluten free, nut free)

yield: about 2 1/2 cups

3 c packed fresh basil leaves

1 c chopped garlic scapes

1 1/2-2 c olive oil

1/2 c grated pecorino romano

1 tsp salt

fresh cracked black pepper

  1. Wash and dry basil leaves. I use a salad spinner to dry them in a flash!
  2. Wash and chop the garlic scapes.
  3. Place basil and scapes in a blender, along with half of the olive oil and the grated pecorino romano. (If you bought your cheese in a chunk - like I did - pulse chunks of it in a food processor until finely grated).
  4. Pulse a few times, then blend. Gradually add remaining olive to reach desired consistency. Add salt and pepper, and blend a few more times.
  5. Serve immediately, or place in a jar to store. To keep it from turning brown in the jar, pour a little olive oil on top - it protects it from the air!


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