Spring Orzo Salad & Spinach Scape Pistou

By July 8, 2019May 3rd, 2024Recipes

Garlic is a long-awaited crop that requires forethought and patience because it is one of the few crops we plant in the fall to overwinter in the ground. After waiting all winter, this dormant allium peeks through in the spring. Before we can crush, sliver or mince the cloves, hardneck garlic plants give a little dose of garlic essence by sending up a whimsical curly scape. If left on the plant, the scape will uncoil to produce a flower. However, many farmers and gardeners remove the scape to encourage the plant to send its energy to the bulb underground instead of to the flower.

In the Learning Garden at The Sylvia Center, garlic is a wonderful teaching tool to talk about the different parts of the plant and how it uses energy. The lesson continues in the kitchen where we discuss how to prepare different parts of the plant, such as using the scapes in a pistou. Much like a pesto without the pine nuts, this pistou can adorn many dishes, from pasta to fish. We added it to our spring vegetable orzo dish as the pis-tou résistance.

Spring Orzo Salad

Serves 4-6


1 cup orzo

1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

½ cup peas, freshly shelled or frozen

½ cup radishes, thinly sliced

1 cup spinach or other green, chopped

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

1 lemon, juiced

2 teaspoons lemon zest

⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 bunch chives, finely chopped


  1. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. 
  2. Put the orzo in a medium bowl, add boiling water to the surface of the grains and let it stand for about 15 minutes, just until tender. Drain and press out any remaining water and toss with a couple pinches of salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large saute pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add asparagus, peas, radishes, and greens and saute lightly until tender.
  4. For the dressing, whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil together and season with salt and pepper.
  5. To the orzo, add sauteed vegetables and chives. Toss with a big splash of the dressing. Taste and add more dressing if needed. Adjust the seasoning as well at this point. Garnish with the remaining chives and a small dollop of pistou and serve.

Spinach Scape Pistou
Yields ~1 cup


3 garlic scapes, chopped

1 teaspoon lemon zest

3 tablespoons lemon juice

½ teaspoon kosher salt

4 packed cups spinach

2 packed cups basil

6 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Put garlic scapes into food processor along with lemon juice, lemon zest, and kosher salt.
  2. Pulse a few times to begin chopping the scapes.
  3. Add the spinach and basil and pulse again.
  4. With the mixer running, add the olive oil in a slow and steady stream. 
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed until desired consistency. 
  6. Taste the pistou and adjust lemon, salt, and pepper as needed.


Germantown Pre-K visited Katchkie Farm where they took a tour of the greenhouse, Learning Garden, and visited the chickens. They discovered where whole food comes from while learning basic culinary skills. Pre-K schoolers planted bean seeds and made a spring orzo salad with spinach scape pistou.