Garlic Scape and Swiss Chard Pesto – Gluten-free & Vegan

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Garlic Scape and Swiss Chard Pesto - Gluten-free & Vegan

Garlic Scape and Swiss Chard Pesto - Gluten-free & Vegan

Somehow in all the fun and craziness of this past two weeks, I totally forgot to post this recipe! I was going through my camera and saw the photos and thought “OOPS”! We got a beautiful large bunch of Swiss chard in the first week of our CSA share from Porter Farms and with the abundance of other greens, I really wanted to figure out something creative to do with the Swiss chard that to just cook it up. I had also grabbed a beautiful bunch of garlic scapes at the farmers market that I was contemplating making some type of pesto with. Then a beautiful post from last year on Jeanette’s Healthy Living, found it’s way to Tasty Yummies Facebook feed through someone I follow and I knew that was the answer. It was heaven sent!

Garlic Scape and Swiss Chard Pesto - Gluten-free & Vegan

I made a few changes to the recipe to make it my own, so feel free to do the same, yourself. If you cannot have nuts, obviously just leave out the walnuts, it will still be amazingly delicious. Additionally I love the very subtle spice from crushed red peppers, feel free to leave that out, if you wish. The Swiss chard was a nice addition to this pesto and nicely took the place of basil or even arugula, both of which I usually make my pestos from. Swiss chard is a highly nutritious vegetable that is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E and K. It also provides good amounts of dietary fiber, magnesium, potassium and copper. Recent research has shown that chard leaves contain at least 13 different polyphenol antioxidants! You can read more about Swiss chard and it’s many benefits here.

Never had garlic scapes before? The twisty, curly, bright green stems are also sometimes called garlic shoots, stems or spears. Garlic scapes are the hard stem that grow above ground, soaking up the sun, while the bulb forms underneath. While the garlic scape is still young and edible, it is a curvy and tender green stalk with a small tightly closed bud on the end. As the garlic plant continues to mature, the scape or stalk will straighten and provide strength for the increasingly larger bulb below the ground’s surface, becoming too tough to eat. Garlic scapes contain a great deal of flavor and are great in pestos, thinly sliced like a scallion or chives for salads, soup, hummus, stir fries, etc. Garlic scapes have the flavor and aromatics reminiscent of garlic cloves, but not nearly as intense or strong.

I cooked up some gluten-free organic brown rice penne rigate from Jovial Foods and tossed it with the pesto, along with some of the pasta cooking water to loosen up the sauce a bit. I hadn’t yet tried this pasta, but I really liked it. It was really light, not too starchy and it had a nice bite to it. Ironically, the day I made this dish, Gluten-free Girl and the Chef posted a video about the secrets to and a “how to” on cooking gluten-free pasta. I followed their instructions and I found it to be helpful to allow the pasta to sit a bit before draining. I would be curious how this would work with Tinkyada brand pasta which I normally use, since it seems a bit starchier.

Besides pasta, this pesto would be great tossed on grilled or roasted veggies, spread on a toasted slice of your favorite gluten-free bread, over eggs, and the list could go on and on.

Garlic Scape and Swiss Chard Pesto - Gluten-free & Vegan

[print_this]Garlic Scape and Swiss Chard Pesto – Gluten-free & Vegan

  • 1 bunch garlic scapes
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, leaves only
  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Blanch the swiss chard leaves in boiling water for about 30 seconds, just to remove chalky taste. Rinse under cold water and squeeze out the water.
Put blanched swiss chard, garlic scapes, walnuts, crushed red pepper and lemon juice into the bowl of your food processor and process until still slightly chunky. Gradually pour olive oil in to feeder tube and continue processing until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve tossed with your favorite gluten-free pasta, add a little of the cooking liquid from the pasta to loosen up the sauce, if you wish.


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11 Responses

  1. That looks super tasty and pretty simple to make. I love to make all kinds of pesto with different greens. I’ve never heard of garlic “scapes”. Is that like a shoot or a sprouted (fresh) garlic? I haven’t seen them here in Berlin. Something you grow on your own or get at your fancy local veg markets?

    • tastyyummies says:

      Thanks Justin! I actually just updated the post to talk a little bit more about what garlic scapes are. I had meant to include that and then it slipped my mind! I get mine at the farmers market!

      • Nice to see the background on scapes. Helpful extra info + update. 🙂 I haven’t seen them around in Europe, as you’ve pictured, but fresh garlic (full bulb) with longer shoots do make an appearance at a lot of local farmer’s weekend markets. The ones you’re showing are really long and curly. I’ll have to talk to some of my gardening friends and see if any of the planted garlic can be cultivated like that, too. I can imagine they make a milder pesto that working with the cloves.

  2. whaleshark says:

    I don’t think it taste good for me but I like the presentation, it looks delicious and healthy. Anyway, thanks for sharing.

  3. pesto is so fabulous! i love this! and that pasta looks incredible!

    • tastyyummies says:

      Thanks Caralyn, pesto is definitely one of my favorite things. I am posting a recipe tomorrow for another way to enjoy the pesto, too!

  4. cliffmama says:

    I was just given some harvested garlic, and the scapes are pretty mature – more like rigid stems and the thickness of pencils. Is it hopeless to use them? Will they be too tough even if blended into pesto? Any other ideas on ways to use them so they’re not wasted? Will they soften if cooked? Thanks.

    • tastyyummies says:

      Hey there, sorry this reply is coming so late, we were out of town. I think if you process the scapes in the food processor to very small bits, I would be they would work great for this recipe. I am not sure about cooking them, I have never done that. I would try the pesto, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Thanks again.

  5. Carolyn says:

    I’m so glad you posted a recipe with garlic scapes. We’ve been getting them nearly every week with our CSA and I am running out of ideas!

  6. Lara says:

    I love this idea. Going to try it tonight.
    Thank you!

  7. Kirsten says:

    Thank you for sharing this recipe with me for my Garlic Scape Recipe Round Up! It’s now live, and I’m so inspired I cannot wait for my scapes to appear.
    You can see the round up here: or Pin it for later:

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