Basil & Garlic Scape Pesto with Shells + Toasted Cashews

By George Sabatino

Here is my partner Jessie’s favorite quick go-to midweek dinner. Super quick to put together and not too many dishes to clean up (my recipes can not always say the same). This is a great base recipe for any herbs, nuts and pasta shapes you may have on the ready- very easily modified. In my opinion this is equally tasty without the cheese in the pesto or garnish for a great vegan option. The nuts in the pesto bring lots of fatty deliciousness on their own. I’m a huge fan of eating any leftovers cold from the fridge the following day too.

Serves 2 as an entrée or lunch or 4 as an appetizer.



For the pasta:

1 medium potato, peeled, medium diced (bite sized)

1/2 pound pasta shells, or shape of your choice

For the pesto: 

1/2 bunch basil, leaves, picked

2 ea garlic scapes, chopped

2 pinches kosher salt

1/4 cup cashews, toasted, chopped

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 pinch red chili flake

1/2 cup evoo

To finish the dish:

1 cup pasta water, reserved from cooking

1 teaspoon cashews, toasted, chopped

To taste parmesan cheese, for grating

To taste EVOO, for drizzling

Method + Assembly

  1. Put a large pot of water on the stove over high heat. Bring to a boil then add the potato and pasta- cook to the specifications on your pack of pasta to al dente. 
  2. While the pasta is cooking, make the pesto- combine basil, scapes, salt, cashews, cheese, chili flakes in the food processor.  Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl down once-  begin to drizzle the oil in slowly with the machine running. You want to create a nice bright paste but not make it too oily (may need less than ½ cup total). Check seasoning and adjust if needed.
  3. Drain pasta and potatoes, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid, return the pasta and potatoes back to the pot. Immediately add pesto and a splash of pasta water, stir well. Add more pasta water until fully coated, may not need entire cup. Check seasoning and adjust if needed.
  4. Transfer to serving bowls or plates- garnish each bowl w/ toasted nuts, fresh grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.
  5. Serve immediately.

George Sabatino is a Philadelphia chef who is dedicating his career to developing vegetable focused dishes, with special attention to sourcing locally and treating all ingredients (and their journeys from farm to table) with respect and purpose.