Garlic Scape & Kale Pesto

Overhead shot of a food processor with partially blended sauce and leafy greens.

Garlic scapes are the stocks that grow from bulbs of hardnecked garlic plants. They could easily be overlooked, but I love that some resourceful cook figured out that they make delicious pesto. 


This recipe is cheese-free and, though I’m not a vegan, I like to make it this way because I can serve it to anyone. And, with ingredients like kale, sunflower seeds and nutritional yeast, this pesto is packed with vitamins and nutrients. 


Big Picture

This recipe is best made with a food processor or high-speed blender. There are instructions below for prepping the scapes and the kale before blending. Because the scapes are pretty fibrous, you’ll start with them. Then you’ll add the seeds and the remaining ingredients.  

If you would like to freeze some of your pesto, this recipe will yield an 8-oz jelly jar for freezing and a half cup to enjoy right away. Leave a bit of air for expansion and top with a drizzle of olive oil before freezing. 

To defrost, it’s best to leave it out on the countertop (rather than using a microwave). When serving, sprinkle with more nutritional yeast to taste.




1 cup garlic scapes, sliced crosswise (about 10-12 scapes)

1 cup kale, thick stems removed and chopped

¼ cup sunflower seeds

½ cup fresh basil

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ lemon, juiced

2 T nutritional yeast

¼ tsp salt, more to taste


Prep the Scapes & Kale: 


Garlic scapes with the flower removed and placed to the left of the scapes


After giving your scapes a rinse, cut the tops (flower buds) off and discard them. Alternatively, you could throw them in the freezer and use them to flavor broth as you would a bay leaf (remove before serving).


Chopped kale on a white background next to a kitchen knife and garlic scapes


De-stem the kale and give it a rough chop.


Pulse and Blend:

Chopped garlic scapes in a food processor

Cut the scapes crosswise and place them in the food processor. 


Roughly blended garlic scapes in a food processor

Pulse the scapes about 20-30 times.


Roughly blended garlic scapes and sunflower seeds in a food processor

Add the seeds and pulse 20-30 times. 


Fully processed pesto in the food processor with a red spatula scraping down the outside of the bowl

 Add the remaining ingredients and blend to the texture you like. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the processor.

What is this vegetable and what do I do with it?!


Sometimes at the farmer’s market or in a CSA box you may come across a vegetable you’ve never seen before. Or perhaps you know the name of a vegetable but you’ve never cooked with it and aren’t sure what to do with it. That’s where our Veggie Gallery comes in handy! CLICK HERE to visit the gallery.

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