Garlic Scape Pesto with Sunflower Seeds

by Michelle on July 13, 2017

I have been making garlic scape pesto for several summers now but I usually do so with slivered almonds or walnuts. But that can be hard to serve to a crowd because many people have nut allergies. So I was surprised and intrigued when my neighbor, Anne, a horticultural therapist, invited me to a cooking demonstration at the community garden she oversees. On the menu was garlic scape pesto, but her version was made with sunflower seeds! I’d never thought of this before. Not only do the seeds provide the same heft and chunk to the pesto as nuts do, but they are more allergy friendly. That weekend, I picked up my first batch of scapes from the farmers market and made my own pesto using sunflower seeds.

Yum, yum, yum. Since then, I’ve made several batches of this stuff and have served it at parties, much to the delight of my guests. Incidentally, if you’ve never seen a garlic scape before, they’re the long green, curly shoots that grow from the top of the garlic plant. You can often find them in early to mid summer in bundles at farmers markets or in a CSA haul (I’ve yet to see them in a grocery store) and they have a strong garlicky flavor—much more pronounced than a clove. So if you’re a garlic fan, you’ll probably love this recipe. Doubly so if you have a nut allergy.

Truth be told, I do not measure ingredients out for pesto. I do it completely by taste and go a little heavy on the cheese, because when is too much cheese ever really a problem, right?  I’ve also started adding half of an avocado to the mix because I like the creaminess it gives the pesto. I’m giving you loose estimations here but customize this to your taste. And then be sure to eat it with crusty bread, good quality mozzarella cheese, and heirloom tomatoes, if they’re available in your area.


Garlic Scape Pesto With Sunflower Seeds

6-8 garlic scapes, cut into 1/2 pieces

1 cup of olive oil

1/2 cup of parmigiano cheese, grated

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1/2 of an avocado

A pinch of salt


Put everything but the olive oil and avocado in a food processor. Add some of the oil and turn the food processor on, adding more oil as needed and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Keep sampling the pesto and adding more of each ingredient to taste.  Add the avocado last, give it a final few pulses until it’s creamy and at the desired consistency. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later use.

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