Classic pesto is a great red sauce pizza alternative throughout the year. But in spring and early summer, I swear by this garlic scape pesto, balanced with fresh mint from the garden and toasted pistachios.
Garlic scapes—the twirly, green, budded things in the picture below—are the above-ground shoots that hard-neck garlic plants produce before the bulbs are fully mature. Since they detract nutrients from the bulbs that will be dug up in the coming months, the scapes are snipped off when they are young and tender, then bundled for market or tossed into CSA boxes. Their flavor is somewhere between mature garlic and chives. And their texture, when blanched or grilled, reminds me of crisp green beans.
I use mint and pistachios for this garlic scape pesto, but you can swap in other herb-nut combinations if you want. Try basil with pine nuts or walnuts, or parsley with cashews or almonds. Keep testing new batches until you find your favorite pairing—and let me know what you discover!
Looking for more spring and summer pizza sauce ideas? Here are some of my faves:
- Zucchini Pizza Sauce
- Barbecue Pizza Sauce
- Mint and Arugula Pesto
- No-Cook Marinara Sauce
- Basil and Lemon Balm Pesto
- Parsley-Chive Pesto
Garlic Scape Pesto with Mint and Pistachios
- Cutting board and knife
- Food processor
- ½ cup shelled unsalted pistachios
- 10 to 12 garlic scapes, chopped into 2-inch pieces
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves, packed
- ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ to 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- In a small dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast the pistachios until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Combine the toasted pistachios, garlic scapes, mint, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender; pulse until finely chopped. With the food processor running, stream in the oil until the mixture resembles a wet paste. If it's too thick, add more olive oil a tablespoon at a time. If it's too thin (very unlikely), add in more toasted pistachios, scapes, and/or mint and process until smooth.
- To store leftover pesto, transfer it to an airtight container and pour in enough olive oil to create a ⅛-inch layer on top. Cover the container and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, drizzling more olive oil on top after each use.