Yesterday I went to the farmer’s market here in Stone Harbor, NJ. I love farmer’s markets and possibility of all the good things to eat. I want it all – fresh vegetables, loaves of crusty bread, and juicy rich fruit that I can bring to the beach. Summer produce is one of my favorite things – and today’s recipe for garlic scape pesto pasta salad has lots of summer veg. I admit, some of the ingredients are more spring vegetables (asparagus, peas, garlic scapes) and so slightly out of season. However, this recipe is worth sharing anyway.
If you’ve stuck with me beyond gushing about vegetables, let me tell you why I really love this recipe. It’s the mozzarella. Mozzarella might be my favorite food. For real.
I believe that when people go to the grocery store they sometimes buy themselves a treat. Maybe it’s a soda, a candy bar, or a trashy magazine. For me, it’s a ball of mozzarella. I buy it for myself when I’ve had a great day. And I buy it for myself when I’ve had a bad day. Sometimes I take that ball and eat it like an apple. Or perhaps, I’ll slice it and eat pieces little by little. If I’m feeling really fancy, I’ll make a caprese salad and sprinkle flaky salt on top. I love mozzarella.
And the small globes of soft, creamy, milky mozzarella make this garlic scape pesto pasta salad really special. Yes, fresh seasonal vegetables are delicious and good for you. Sure, pasta is delicious and filling. And duh, pasta salad is a staple of summer time cook-outs and parties. But add balls of cheese and you’re truly stepping up your game. Have I talked enough about cheese? I think so. Let’s move on and talk about garlic scape pesto.
I like this pasta salad also because it’s not coated in mayonnaise. “Salads” that are basically sloshing around in a mayo soup skeeve me out. Instead, this recipe retains moisture through garlic scape pesto. It’s just like regular pesto, but instead of basil you use garlic scapes.
What are garlic scapes? They’re the flower bud of the garlic plant and they’ve got a lovely garlic flavor without being as bitter as raw garlic. Although the Nickelodeon green slime color of garlic scape pesto might not be so appetizing it’s really delicious. And besides, you’ll feel good for eating some veggies. Make a big batch for this recipe and then use any leftover to coat cauliflower florets and then roast them. SO GOOD.
Ok so get to it. Make this for your next summer party and people will thank you for stepping it up with something so delicious and perfectly straddling the line between feeling healthy and indulgent.
Messy level: I hate calling this a four spoon recipe because I feel like that could put people off. The method is really simple, so please consider making this! But unfortunately, you’ll need a few pots, pans, and a food processor. That’s a lot of dishes. Sorry folks.
- 10-12 large garlic scapes, roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup/ 45 grams pine nuts
- ⅓ cup/ 35 grams finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- ⅓ cup/ 78 milliliters olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 pound/ 454 grams orecchiette
- 8 ounces/ 230 grams pancetta, cut into small bite sized pieces (I bought the pre-cut package from the deli counter)
- 1 pound/454 grams asparagus spears, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1½ cups/ 225 grams frozen peas
- 8 ounces/ 230 grams small mozzarella balls
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Put the garlic scapes, pine nuts, and Parmesan in the food processor. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Turn it on and let it go until you have a chunky puree.
- With the processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Let it go until it all comes together in a thick sauce. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if need be.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water. Then add the orecchiette. Cook until al dente, according to package instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat. Cook the panchetta until crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Drain on a paper towel.
- Four minutes before the pasta is done throw the asparagus into the pasta pot and give it a stir.
- One to two minutes before the pasta is done throw the peas into the pasta pot and give it a stir.
- When the pasta is done, drain it in a colander. Then put the pasta, asparagus, and peas into a large bowl.
- Add the mozzarella and pancetta to the large bowl.
- Put one cup of the garlic scape pesto into a small bowl. Then stir in the red wine vinegar and the olive oil. Stir until smooth.
- Mix the pesto in with the pasta. Add more pesto if you think it looks too dry.
- Serve as a main or a side dish.