Saturday, July 30, 2011

Recipe for Chard and Garlic Scape Pesto

I loved this Garlic Scape Pesto, which I froze using mini muffin tins.

Back in 2006 I discovered garlic scapes and made some Garlic Scape Pesto.   I liked the garlic scape pesto, but garlic scapes are such a strongly-flavored ingredient that this year when my friend Margarethe gave me some garlic scapes that she'd gotten in her CSA box, I thought it would be fun to try mixing them in pesto with something else.  I first thought of kale, but when I went out into the garden the chard was calling out to me, and I thought this Chard and Garlic Scape pesto was just a brilliant combination.  I like it on pasta, but I've also been mixing a few tablespoons into scrambled eggs when they're nearly cooked.  If you don't have garlic scapes, I'd still try chard pesto made with minced garlic, which I think would also be a nice combination.

If you're not familiar with garlic scapes, here's what they look like. 

I used a cup of chopped garlic scapes.  I wanted them cut into short lengths before I put them in the food processor.

It took 2-3 minutes in the food processor before I felt the scapes were chopped enough to start adding other things.

The chard was from my garden, so I gave it a good wash in the salad spinner.

I processed the scapes/chard about 2 minutes more.

Then I added the lemon juice, pine nuts, and olive oil and processed about 2 minutes more.

Last I added the Parmesan cheese and processed about another minute.

I froze the pesto in a mini muffin tin, and then when it was frozen I transferred the cubes to a Ziploc bag.  (Label the bag before you put in the pesto cubes; I'll remember that next time!)

Chard and Garlic Scape Pesto 
(Makes about 3 cups of pesto, recipe created by Kalyn.)

To make this recipe you will need a food processor.

1 cup chopped garlic scapes
(If you don't have garlic scapes I'd use about 3-4 T minced garlic)
4 cups chopped swiss chard leaves
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 cups Parmesan cheese
salt to taste (I used about 2 tsp. salt)

Wash and dry garlic scapes; then cut into short lengths until you have one cup of chopped scapes.  Wash, dry, and chop swiss chard until you have 4 cups chopped chard.  Add garlic scapes to the food processor and process until they are starting to look finely chopped, about 2-3 minutes.  (It took longer than I thought it would.)  Add chard and process the mixture about 2 minutes more, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the lemon juice, olive oil, and pine nuts and process about 2 minutes more.  Add Parmesan and process 1-2 minutes more, or until the pesto reaches the texture you prefer.  I like to keep it slightly chunky.
I froze the pesto in a mini muffin tin and then popped out the cubes and stored them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.  You can also freeze pesto in ice cube trays or small plastic containers with a snap-tight lid.  

This pesto is good on pasta, stirred into rice, on cooked vegetables, or stirred into scrambled eggs.  You could also use it as a green sauce on cooked fish or chicken.

South Beach Suggestions:
Pesto is a calorie-dense food and it contains a fair amount of saturated fat due to the cheese, so this would be a limited food for the South Beach Diet, but it's not something you'd eat in large amounts anyway. 

More Ideas with Garlic Scapes
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Garlic Scape Pesto from Kalyn's Kitchen
7 Things to do with Garlic Scapes from Serious Eats
12 Ways to Use Garlic Scapes from Apple Pie, Patis, and Pate
Pickled Cukes and Garlic Scapes from Healthy Green Kitchen
Brie and Garlic Scape Pizza from Love and Olive Oil
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.) counter customizable free hit
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!


  1. What a great idea to freeze pesto in the mini muffin tin! I'm going to make a few different pestos this week, so I'll give that method a try. Thanks for the tip.

  2. Lydia, I think the photo makes it look like the cubes of pesto are bigger than they really are, but to me it's just the right amount of pesto.

  3. Thanks Margaret! And it's an easy way to get a few veggies into a dish.

  4. What a beautiful pesto and a great way to use Swiss Chard. I've never used garlic scraps but I'm going to keep an eye out for them next time I go to the market. Beautiful post!

  5. Thanks, glad you like the idea. Garlic scapes only are available for about 3 weeks so they may be gone already, but I still wanted to post this so I would remember for next year!

  6. I freeze my pesto in an ice cube tray, and then use two or three cubes, the muffin tin is a much better idea!!

  7. I do like using the muffin tin; it seems like just about as much pesto as I'd use at one time.

  8. What a brilliant idea to make and freeze them like this.

  9. I have committed myself to using the chard from my CSA as soon as I get it this year. This is a great idea and I love the vibrant green color you get combining the chard and the garlic scapes.

  10. For some reason I always thought that scapes were less pungent than garlic...then I made pesto with them. WHOA. Spicy. The chard sounds like the perfect way to add extra nutrients and mellow them out!

  11. I made garlic scape & basil pesto just BEFORE I read your interesting choice. I'm saving this for my next trip to the market... fingers crossed that there will still be garlic scapes there.

    Thanks for the great tip about freezing.

  12. Not only does this pesto look fabulous, Kalyn, but I love your idea for freezing.

  13. I still haven't frozen pesto and using the mini-muffin pans is a wonderful idea to ensure the same amounts. I haven't tried garlic scapes either. This sounds and looks really good, Kalyn! ;-)


  14. Maris, thanks. Some people say you can't freeze pesto with the cheese added in, but I have done it for years.

    TW, I know what you mean; I love greens but every year I have a challenge using up the kale and chard from the garden too.

    Joanne, yes the scapes are pretty pungent. I really liked them combined with another green like this.

    Ruth, I bet they are good combined with basil; haven't tried that. If I find more scapes I might try combining them with kale.

    Barbara, thanks. Love having those cubes of pesto in the freezer!

    Thanks Shirley. I'm looking forward eperimenting with this healthy pesto!

  15. Your suggestion to freeze pesto in mini muffin tins is a perfect one for me since I usually prepare dinner for one or two. I've seen garlic scapes at the farmer's market but haven't been sure what to do with them. Combining them with chard is a wonderful solution.

  16. Cathy, that's exactly why I like to freeze it in these small amounts too! I really liked the garlic scapes with the chard.

  17. What a terrific idea freezing. this is my first year with a garden and I am having so much fun (like my pasta I made (and credited to) from your inspiring post...

    I have a HUGE batch of basil just waiting for something. But I am too cheap to use pine nuts, so I usually make a walnut pesto.

  18. Isn't have a garden just the most fun ever? And I think pesto with walnuts or pecans sounds great. Glad the recipe inspired you!

  19. I've never had garlic scapes before. Your idea to freeze it in a muffin tin is brilliant!

  20. Garlic scape pesto is an all-time favorite of mine. I just wish the garlic scape season was a little longer! I make it like typical pesto with pine nuts, grated asiago and Parmesan cheese, lemon, olive oil and freshly ground sea salt. I haven't tried it mixed with other greens. Good idea!

  21. I agree about the short season. Seems like I just remember what to do with them, and the garlic scapes are gone!

  22. Very rare that I'm surprised by a pesto recipe these days Kalyn, but you always manage to outdo yourself!

  23. Great stuff Thanks for sharing.

  24. Scott, you're so sweet. I got the idea from kale pesto someone mentioned, but when I went to pick kale I ended up deciding on chard!

  25. Harriette, I was not ignoring you, lol! I don't know why it takes so long for Comcast to get the comments to my e-mail. Glad you like the recipe.

  26. I love this idea of freezing pesto in mini muffin tins. I have never eaten garlic scapes but the colour is gorgeous.

  27. Barbara, the garlic scapes are kind of a cross between strong onion and garlic I'd say. Glad you like the idea of the muffin tin.

  28. I am so excited to know what to do with those garlic scapes. Can't wait to try it. Also like the idea of the muffin tin.
    Hope ok to mention here that I made the Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake and now that is my favorite zucchini dish. Such wonderful flavors!

  29. Maureen, hope you enjoy the pesto as much as you did the Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake!

  30. Great idea - freezing these in small portions, perfect for stir-fries and soups later on. I made some swiss chard garlic scape pesto this summer but blanched the swiss chard a little bit just to reduce the oxalic acid that is present in raw swiss chard. Loved how it made the pesto a bit milder.

  31. Jeanette, that sounds like a good idea. My chard was pretty young with small leaves (the quail ate my first planting of chard!) so it was pretty mild. But I might try that next time.

  32. This recipe looks fantastic! I am actually hosting a garlic scapes linky party at 2 Sisters 2 Cities as part of our Fresh Produce Tuesday series. I would love if you submitted this recipe!


  33. Kalyn,
    Thank you for sharing this recipe with me for my Garlic Scape Recipe Round Up! It's now live, and I'm so inspired I cannot wait for my scapes to appear.
    You can see the round up here: or Pin it for later:


I'm so happy you're taking the time to comment on Kalyn's Kitchen! I love hearing from people who stop by, especially if you're sharing feedback or asking questions about a recipe I've posted here.

I've recently changed my comment settings so people can comment without signing in, but you will need to check the box to show you're a live person, and comments on older posts won't show up until I publish them. Thanks for understanding!

Blogging tips