Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pasta with Roasted Garlic Scape Pesto, Tomatoes and Pea Shoots

About a year ago I made garlic scape pesto for the first time. I saw the scapes at the farmers market and had never heard of them before. A little online research revealed that people 1) get really excited about garlic scapes, which are available at farmers markets for a limited time and 2) generally make pesto with them.

So I took the plunge and made the most beautiful bright green garlic scape pesto. And after tossing it with some pasta and eating it, the next day I realized that sometimes the "you are what you eat" maxim can get a little too literal. It was really intense. Too much so actually. I oozed garlic. I tasted garlic for days. I'm pretty sure my DNA temporarily converted to that of garlic.

This may seem like a lot of pea shoots, but they are pretty delicate and wilt quickly.

Nonetheless, when the garlic scapes showed up at the market this year, I bought them again. This time would be different though, and I had a plan.

Roasting garlic mellows out its flavor, turning those hard, pungent cloves into something soft and buttery. Could roasting be the key to making a garlic scape pesto that wouldn't make everyone avoid me this next day?

So far so good. The pesto wasn't as bright green, but it was pleasingly garlicky, just not overwhelmingly so. It paired nicely with the tomatoes and the fresh ricotta which, when mixed into the pasta, combined with the cooked tomatoes to make a thick sauce. A little pasta water might help give the sauce some more body.

Pasta with Roasted Garlic Scape Pesto, Tomatoes and Pea Shoots

1 lb. stubby pasta such as penne or rotini
1 tbsp. olive oil
2-4 large tomatoes, chopped
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
2 cups of pea shoots, roughly chopped
3/4 lb. hand-dipped (fresh) ricotta cheese
Roasted garlic scape pesto (recipe below)
Fresh snipped chives (optional garnish)

1. Bring a large salted pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain and set aside in the pot, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water if you want to add it to the sauce later.

2. In a large frying pan, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add tomatoes and cook until softened, about 12-15 minutes. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add pea shoots and stir until wilted.

3. Add tomato-pea shoot sauce and ricotta to the pot of cooked pasta (and pasta water if using), stir until pasta is coated. Serve in a shallow bowl topped with a generous couple tablespoons of garlic scape pesto and a sprinkling of chives.

Roasted Garlic Scape Pesto

10 garlic scapes, chopped, thinnest part discarded
2 tsp. olive oil
Sea salt
2 tbsp. pine nuts
12-15 basil leaves
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup parmigiano-reggiano

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.

2. Place garlic scapes in a 9 x 9 roasting pan, toss with olive and season with a little salt. Roast for 20-30 minutes until fragrant and just starting to brown. Set aside to cool.

3. Add garlic scapes, pine nuts, basil and red pepper flakes to the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube in a stream. Add additional oil until desire consistency is achieved (at this point, you can freeze any pesto that won't be used right away). Stir in parmigiano-reggiano before serving.


  1. This was great! And kudos to me for picking out the pasta.

  2. Yes, kudos to you! I'll let you pick out pasta more often if you like.