Quick and easy dinner ideas are the key to getting a meal on the table during summer thanks to busy schedules and rising temperatures. Who has time to spend hours making dinner with kids running around on 90 degree days? That’s why we love anything you can make ahead and serve for dinner. Bonus points if it’s no-cook and seasonal. This simple pesto recipe, which uses garlic scapes instead of traditional basil or cilantro, is all of those things, making it the thing to add to your dinner for boosts of flavor and freshness.
For the uninitiated, garlic scapes are harvested in June and July and are the flowering stems of garlic — as opposed to the bulb we’re used to using in recipes. They have a grassy garlic flavor that is milder than cloves from the bulb when raw, making them a great base for pesto. You should be able to find garlic scapes at the farmers market during the earliest weeks of summer, depending on your region of the United States.
Once you acquire some garlic scapes, making the pesto could not be any easier. Simply toss them in a blender with olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of red pepper flakes and puree it all together. Then, stir in a cup of Parmesan cheese, and you're good to go! It takes less than five minutes.
This pesto can be served right away or stored in the refrigerator and used later in the week, so when you find time to make this recipe, make it! Just note that when you want to serve your pesto, remove it from the fridge and let it come to room temperature before using.
The best thing to do with this pesto is to serve it on top of pasta. Pesto does best with longer types of pasta or pasta with ridges, like bucatini, angel hair, fusilli or rotini. Add on some grilled shrimp or grilled chicken, and you’re golden! Dinner will be on the table in a matter of minutes. And once you learn the merits of garlic scapes, learn more about summer produce and what to do with it.
This recipe by Abby Mandel originally appeared in The Chicago Tribune.
1/4 pound garlic scapes, cut in small pieces
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt to taste
Step 1: Puree 1/4 pound scapes with 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes in blender or processor.
Step 2: Stir in 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Adjust salt.