I overheard a woman at the farmers’ market on Saturday asking to have the carrot greens removed from the bunch of carrots she just bought. That woman could have been me just a few short years ago. That was before I knew about adding carrot tops to soup. And, as of only a month ago, before I’d ever even heard of Carrot Top Pesto.
Just like the carrot tops, Carrot Top Pesto has a light and feathery quality to it. As well as a lighter, milder flavor than the more traditional basil pesto or my other recipes for Garlic Scape Pesto or Tuscan Kale Pesto. It may be milder, yet it still packs a powerful flavor punch when stirred into Carrot Top Soup, swirled into hummus or tossed into pasta.
Recently harvested carrot tops make the brightest flavored pesto. Once the greens wither, they can become slightly bitter. Though, not enough to deter using them in soup, pesto, salads or adding them to carrot juice or morning green drinks.
Say yes to carrot tops
Carrots are one of the most beautiful plants in the garden with their graceful green tops. It’s always a special treat to pull on the tops and unearth a carrot. Even more so this year as I’ve been pulling up huge carrots, like the 7-inch circumference one I showed you last week. Look at these carrots I pulled up to make Carrot Top Pesto and soup. They might look small in the picture. But they’re hefty. Two of them together, weigh-in at just over half a pound. And even better, they were especially sweet and tender.
As an aside, the light and feathery greens are nutrient-rich. The carrot greens provide vitamins A, B6, C and K along with niacin and manganese. And to think we’ve been throwing them out for all these years. Now’s the time to just say yes to carrot tops.
Untoasted nuts for pesto
I usually recommend toasting nuts to bring out their flavor. However, with pesto, I prefer to use them untoasted. The flavor of toasted nuts tends to dominate over the greens and garlic. Untoasted, harmony reigns.
Adjusted from a recipe by Diane Morgan in her book Roots. Carrot Top Pesto is oh so delicious stirred into a bowl of Carrot Top Soup. Also try it swirled into hummus or labneh or spread on a cracker. And of course Carrot Top Pesto is a perfect match for pasta.
Makes a scant 2/3 cup Printer-Friendly Recipe
Total Time 10 minutes
1 large clove garlic, peeled
2 ½ cups lightly packed carrot leaves, thick stems removed
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
¼ cup walnuts
¼ teaspoon Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
- With a food processor running, drop the garlic through the feed tube. Stop the machine when the garlic is finely chopped.
- Add the carrot leaves to the processor along with the fresh basil leaves, walnuts and salt. Process until coarsely chopped.
- With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil. When the mixture has emulsified, add the grated cheese and mix just until combined.
- Enjoy immediately. Or refrigerate for up to 3 days.