Did you know the word pesto is simply Italian for pound or crush? Traditionally made with fresh basil, you can make a wide variety of pestos using different herbs and greens. The fundamental ingredients of a typical pesto are: herbs or greens, nuts, cheese, oil, salt and pepper.
For this recipe, we skip the basil and substitute lemon balm and garlic scapes. If you’re a garlic lover you’ll swoon over its spicy taste paired with the light lemony flavor of lemon balm.
This pesto is a great appetizer spread on bread, crackers or vegetables. It can also be used to flavor pasta dishes or served as a topping on fish and seafood. If you plan to serve it with fish, may I suggest amplifying the lemon flavor even more by adding a teaspoon or two of lemon juice.
- 1 cup garlic scapes, flower head removed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 1 cup fresh lemon balm leaves
- 1/3 cup nuts (e.g. walnuts, pine nuts or sunflower seeds)
- 1/4 cup shredded cheese (e.g. parmesan or other hard cheese)
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
- OPTIONAL: 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Prepare the garlic scapes by removing the bulbous flower head and tip. Then chop into 1 inch pieces.
- In a food processor, pulse the scapes until they’re broken down (about 20 seconds).
- Add the nuts and pulse until combined. You may need to use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the processor bowl.
- With the processor running, drizzle in the oil and blend. Scrape down the sides.
- Add the lemon balm leaves, cheese, salt and pepper (and lemon juice if desired) and blend until it reaches a desired consistency.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
You can serve this immediately or store for later use. It will keep in the fridge for about 1 week or you can pack into a jar or Tupperware, leaving a little extra head space at the top, and keep it in the freezer for about a year.