When you buy carrots at your farmers’ market and the frilly tops (AKA carrot greens) are still intact, instead of trimming them and tossing in the trash (or compost bin), use them in this delicious recipe for Nutty Carrot Top Pesto.
Food waste is a topic I’ve addressed a lot here on the blog, and I’ve made a personal commitment to reduce my food waste dramatically. Using up the carrot tops (leaves, stems, and all) is easier than you may think. You can add them to this pesto and serve with roasted vegetables, fish, chicken, or beef … or spread on sandwiches, pizza crusts or crostini. You can also add the tops to salads, tabouli, chimichurri, soups, or use as an edible garnish for just about anything.
If you’re wondering what carrot greens taste like, they have an earthy, root vegetable flavor.
I adore pesto. Instead of the usual pine nuts, I like to add shelled pistachios … but you could also use toasted walnuts, almonds, or pecans.
A mini food processor comes in handy for this recipe.
Entertaining tip: I was at a friend’s house recently for an outdoor dinner party. I volunteered to bring roasted vegetables with my Nutty Carrot Top Pesto. I roasted carrots (with a few inches of stem still intact), radishes, and beets and arranged three separate veggie/dip plates for each couple. All the vegetables came from Sustainable Nantucket Farmer’s and Artisan’s Market. I volunteer at the market from time to time, and at the end of my volunteer shift, I always do my shopping.
One friend at the party can’t eat nuts and the other can’t eat cheese. So I made three versions of the pesto: One with the works; one without Parmesan; and one without the pistachios. All three came out great.
Food Town Farm on Nantucket grows the most gorgeous vegetables. They’re at the farmer’s market every week, and we’re lucky to have them in the community.
Here’s a salad I recently made for lunch with a bunch of leftovers, including carrot greens.
- ¼ cup shelled pistachios or walnuts
- 1 small garlic clove
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Zest of half a lemon
- Juice of half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 cups trimmed carrot tops
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 to 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese *
- 1 tablespoon honey, maple syrup, or agave *
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- A pinch kosher salt and black pepper
- Place the pistachios and garlic in the bowl of a food processor (I used a mini processor) and pulse a few times until the nuts resemble course sand. Add the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, the carrot tops, basil, Parmesan cheese, honey, Dijon, and salt and pepper and pulse until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl and continue to pulse as needed.
* To make the recipe vegan, use maple syrup or agave vs. honey.
Have you ever tried carrot tops before? Tell me how you like to use them.