By Chef Linda
Pesto is one of those things that I love to have on hand in the summer. Tossed with grilled vegetables, spread on crostini, or used to jazz up pasta salad, it's the quintessential summer staple. Ingredients are often just steps away, growing abundantly in the garden or in pots. When my basil and kale are on the verge of taking over the back yard, I know it's time for pesto. Garlic scape pesto is an extra-special treat, made in early summer when the long tops of hard-neck garlic contort themselves into wild curls. Scapes can also be found at farmers markets and even in some stores in early summer. Grab 'em while you can, because they add a beautiful, gentle spiciness to your favorite summer dishes and they are the perfect warm-weather ingredient to jazz up your traditional pesto.
Instead of parmesan, used in traditional pesto recipes, we use nutritional yeast to impart the richness and depth of flavor. Substitute your favorite nut for pumpkin seeds if you prefer, though pumpkin seeds are great for nut-free guests or family members. Pesto freezes well, so be sure to make a double batch to brighten your meals on even the gloomiest days of winter.
Garlic Scape Garden Pesto
About 10 garlic scapes, cut into chunks
3 to 4 large kale leaves, tough stems removed, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Juice from one lemon, about 2 to 3 tablespoons
About a 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Place garlic scapes in food processor and process until finely chopped. Add kale, basil, pumpkin seeds and nutritional yeast. Pulse until just blended, scraping down sides with a spatula. Add lemon juice, oil and salt. Blend and taste to adjust seasonings. Use immediately, or store extra in an air-tight container, covered by a layer of olive oil. Pesto can also be frozen for several months.