The key to a really good pesto isn’t the freshness of the ingredients or the ratio of oil to nuts to cheese.
It’s a food processor.
Now, I’m sure that a large part of the reason that last night’s garlic scape pesto was so amazing was because the garlic scapes were locally and organically grown, the parmesan was real parmesan, and the olive oil was grown on a small family farm in Lebanon.
But the food processor was what allowed everything to come together quickly and homogeneously.
I tried to make pesto last year with my blender. Bad idea. The blades couldn’t stand up to the crunchy, chunky ingredients. And it made everything taste bitter. In fact, it was inedible, no matter how much parmesan I added into it at the end.
And as much as I like “slow” food, I wasn’t going to try the mortar and pestle.
If you’re going to make pesto, folks, a food processor is essential. Otherwise, don’t bother.
Now, onto the recipe.
Garlic Scape Pesto
A garlic scape is the shoot of a garlic plant which is cut off in early spring so that the garlic bulb will grow better. It’s kind of like a cross between a chive and a stalk of asparagus. It’s got a strong garlic flavor but is not as harsh as a clove of garlic. The scape season is pretty short, but they last pretty much forever if kept in the coldest part of your refrigerator.
A arge bunch of garlic scapes
about a cup of olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
two large handfuls of almonds
1/2 cup (at least) grated Parmesan cheese
Cut the ends of the garlic scapes. Make sure to remove the flowering end to avoid bitterness. Roughly chop scapes into 2 inch pieces or so.
Add scapes, almonds, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to food processor. Run processor until mixture is more or less uniform. While processor is running, drizzle in oil in a fine stream. Keep drizzling until the mixture starts to become more liquid and turns a lighter green in color. Stop the processor occasionally and check for thickness. Because the garlic scapes are tougher than, say, basil, this mixture will never be as smooth in texture as regular pesto. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Fold in grated Parmesan. Keeps about a week in the coldest part of your refrigerator.
If freezing, don't add the cheese. Put into freezer-safe container, and add a little bit of oil to seal the top. After thawing, add the cheese just before serving. (Cheese doesn't do well being frozen).
Expect some pesto recipes from me the rest of the week. I've got about 2 cups of pesto to use up, so we'll see what I can do.