Orzo Salad with Garlic Scape Pesto


No summer cookout or picnic feel complete without a little pasta salad. This one takes full advantage of a short-lived summer ingredient – garlic scapes.

Scapes are the curly green shoots that grow from hard-neck garlic varieties. You clip them off so the plant nutrients and energy refocus on the bulb and create a robust full head of garlic. It’s best to cut the scapes early when they are still young and tender with a tightly closed bud at the top.

They are incredibly aromatic with a pungent bright garlic flavor. You can cook them, but personally, I love to showcase their robust taste by keeping them raw and making a pesto sauce.

This orzo salad comes together in a jiffy but adds a fancy flair to a simple grilling get-together. I turned to the pantry for sundried tomatoes to add some color. In this instance, I prefer to use the ones that are not packed in oil as I don’t want things to become too greasy. A couple of cups of garbanzo beans add a bit of bulk to the dish making it hearty enough to eat all on its own. Lemon juice and zest brings out the freshness of the scapes and helps link all the flavors.

Garlic scapes are only around for a few fleeting weeks, so take advantage of them if you can. Ever tried them? What’s your favorite way to enjoy them?

Orzo Salad with Garlic Scape Pesto

Serves 6


  • 1 pound orzo pasta
  • 1 cup garlic scapes, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes (not packed in oil), diced


  1. Cook the orzo to package specifications.
  2. In a food processor add the chopped scapes, walnuts, parmesan cheese, lemon juice and zest and olive oil. Puree until smooth or to your desired consistency.
  3. Reserve ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water just in case before draining the orzo.
  4. Place the drained orzo into a large bowl. Add the garbanzo beans and sundried tomatoes. Stir in the garlic scape pesto. If the sauce is too thick, use some of the reserved pasta cooking water to thin as necessary.
  5. Serve immediately.


Photos by Renato Ghio

Join the Conversation

  1. That recipe has my mouth watering…and it's only 8AM!! We are wondering if the scapes are available in any farm stands or markets around here. Or is it something that we will need to plant for next year?

  2. I've seen them at the Danbury Farmers' Market and the one in Westport too. It's towards the end of their season but you might still might be able to find them. I've got a bunch of homegrown.

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