Between growing a vegetable garden and signing up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) box, I’ve been learning to get a lot more creative with vegetables. But that has kind of multiplied my choices, because at some point I learned that most of the greens that are attached to our favorite root vegetables are also edible. I used to think that fancy markets only sold them with the greens attached to make you think they were fresher and healthier, but nope, they’re food too. So when I pick beets from my garden, instead of tossing the greens in my compost pile, I know I should be figuring out how to eat them.
The other day I got a CSA box containing beautiful purple carrots, greens attached, and garlic scapes. Plus I have some garlic growing in my garden that recently sprouted scapes. So for today’s recipe, I decided to figure out how to use them all. One of my go-to uses for unusual greens these days is pesto. I’ve even made dandelion pesto, a radish green pesto, and a couple of years ago I made garlic scape pesto on its own.
My home-grown scapes below are a lot less curly then the ones that came in my CSA box. I have no idea why, but I’m guess it’s either the garlic type, or the growing conditions.
If you’re looking for your own garlic scapes, check farmer’s markets, or grow them. However, you’ll have to wait until about a year from now to harvest them. Growing garlic is super easy, but you do have to plan ahead.
A super quick guide to growing garlic: First, get some garlic cloves. The ones from supermarkets may be treated to prevent sprouting, but the ones from a farmer’s market, CSA, or garden shop should work. In the fall (I think I planted mine in November last year), dig a hole about 3 inches deep and stick a clove of garlic in there, pointy end up. Each clove will grow into a whole head of garlic. Leave the paper on the clove, and only plant big cloves. (My brother told me he learned that the hard way one year, when he planted itty-bitty cloves, and ended up with heads of garlic made up entirely of tiny cloves.) Then you just have to wait until spring or early summer for the scapes to sprout. Snip them off, but leave the rest of the garlic until the greens turn brown, then dig or pull it up, and dry it. You can even grow it in outdoor containers if you don’t have a garden bed.
This recipe makes lots more garlic scape pesto than you’ll need for the carrots, so while you can just put it on bread or pasta (or veggie pasta–I’m really tempted by those spiralizers that are all the rage), in case you need some more ideas, I suggest my cheesy broccoli kale quinoa casserole, portobello, gouda, and kale pesto grilled cheese (just sub in the garlic scape pesto for the kale pesto), a very green pesto pizza, or roasted pesto potatoes. And if you can’t use it all up right away, you can freeze pesto in ice cube trays, then pop it out and store the pesto cubes in a bag in the freezer. Although you might want to explain to other users of your freezer why you’re making pesto ice cubes, because my husband was very confused when he saw mine.
Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top and Garlic Scape Pesto
For the carrots:
Bunch of young carrots with greens attached
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Trim the tops off the carrots and set aside. Toss the carrots on a rimmed baking sheet with the olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, until carrots are tender and just beginning to brown, 25–30 minutes.
For the pesto:
5 oz garlic scapes, cut into 1-inch long pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups chopped carrot tops, plus additional for garnish
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
Pulse garlic scapes and sunflower seeds in a food processor until a coarse paste forms. Add olive oil, Parmesan, carrot tops, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt, and process until the ingredients are combined. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
If the pesto is too thick to spread over the carrots, thin a tablespoon with water or olive oil. Toss the carrots with the pesto, sprinkle with a dusting of chopped carrot greens, and serve.