It almost feels canibalistic, you know? Like how people don’t like to eat eggs with chicken, except for not at all.
Because carrot top pesto. We’re using the whole plant!
I’ve seen sauces and drizzles using carrot leaves in several recipes, but they have been more thin and acidic, like a chimichurri. The benefit of a pesto is that you use a LOT of the tops, which is important to me because there is essentially more top than bottom to a carrot when you think of using the carrot itself as the food and the greens as a topping. I’ve also seen carrot greens wilted down like spinach, but I wanted to keep them raw for their lovely barely-there-carrot flavor.
So. Pesto! The first time I made this I used pecans because I already had them, and I wanted the flavor of this pesto to be different than a regular basil pesto. I did use parsley, lemon, garlic, and parm – all the usual suspects. We’ve used this over fish, with pasta, and on toast as crostini, but my favorite way to use this is to have it almost as a dip for roasted carrots. These came straight out of our yard, but any carrot bunch with the leaves still attached will do!
Like I said, it’s a LOT of carrot greens. I like to make a big batch of this and share it, and I usually have to pulse the greens, add more, pulse, etc to fit them all into the food processor. I use parsley to add a little extra flavor, and garlic, lemon, parmesan, toasted pecans, olive oil, and salt. Georg (ous)!
You know how to make pesto! Ingredients in food processor.
Buzz buzz buzz. These greens are hardier than soft herbs like basil, so I find that the pesto needs several minutes to get really smooth and not taste woody. I don’t remove any of the carrot stems unless they are super thick (I had some that were like celery stalks), so give this some time to really get smooth and come together! Every 2 minutes or so, taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning to your preference. Especially with salt, I’ve had some batches that didn’t need a lot of salt at all, and some where it felt like I couldn’t add enough. Because you’ll be adding pesto to other ingredients, it should taste slightly more salty than a finished dish would. Salt = more tasting of the other flavors!
To roast carrots, I do one layer of carrot chunks, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, and roast at 375F for 30-40 minutes until the carrots are soft. Easy!
We love this and I’m contemplating freezing some so we can have it all summer when we get sick of basil pesto (is that a thing?). It’s a great change in flavor but still feels familiar and is so versatile.
Plus. Using the whole plant is good for you, good for the environment, good for your wallet. All of the good! The only part of the plant that I don’t use here is the tiny bit between the carrot and the greens where it’s pretty tough to chew through.
Try this soon, and enjoy! I find carrots in stores with their greens all the time, and now we know what to do with them.
- 3 cups carrot tops - leaves and stems
- 1 cup fresh parsley - leaves and stems
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup toasted pecan halves or pieces
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon, juiced
- salt, to taste
- 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more if needed
- 4 large carrots, cut into bite-sized chunks
- olive oil
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Blend until very smooth, about 5 minutes. If the mixture is thick, stream in more olive oil to smooth and thin it out. Taste, and sprinkle in more salt to your taste.
To roast carrots, preheat the oven to 375F. Arrange the carrots on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Roast the carrots for 30-40 minutes until soft and browned at the edges. Serve with the pesto.
Other uses for pesto: mix with hot pasta, spoon over fish, or spread on bread for an appetizer.