When you're buying carrots from the supermarket or even from your local Farmer's Markets it's rare that you'll see the greens attached to the carrot. However, when you're producing your own vegetables you get more than just a carrot — you get the bonus of edible greens!
Yes the tops of carrots are edible too!
Carrot tops or carrot greens can be eaten raw in a salad (added like you would parsley). They can be dehydrated and to soup, or to your own dried vegetable stock or use dehydrated carrot tops in place of dried parsley in a pasta sauce.
While dried and raw are both excellent ways to use up your carrot tops, you might have an abundance of leaves and be looking for another way to get the most of your carrot top crop.
This growing season I've had an abundance of rocket (or as some call it arugula), and just like carrot tops one can only eat so much rocket salad. My go to 10 minute dinner involves heading to the garden, collecting rocket and spring onion along with a few herbs and presto — a pesto in minutes.
You can only eat so much rocket salad and you can only eat so much rocket pesto, your carrots are ready to harvest and you now have an abundance of carrot tops — time to switch it up the pesto recipes!
Carrot Top Pesto requires few ingredients, is simple to make and most importantly — it tastes delicious.
Using carrot tops for your base pesto ingredient is a great zero waste way to get the most out of your garden. While it may sound a little green, earthy and way too healthy, I can assure you once you've tried this pesto you'll be surprised at just how tasty it is.
This recipe is for a vegan pesto, however it can easily be modified for those that don't think a pesto is a pesto without parmesan cheese. Note however that one key feature of the recipe is that you can obtain all the ingredients in this recipe without using plastic.
By adding parmesan cheese to the ingredient list, it's no longer plastic free. Sure you can recycle the plastic but we all know reducing is a better option than recycling, and recycling is most definitely not the answer to our plastic pollution problem.
This recipe is also suitable for those with nut allergies, however if allergies aren't a problem for you, the recipe can easily be modified by adding half a cup of your choice of walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, toasted almonds or pine nuts.
One thing that differentiates a carrot top pesto from a rocket or basil based pesto is time. Carrot tops require the long stems to be be removed as well a quick blanch to soften up the leaves.
Once the leaves have been blanched in hot water for a few minutes they are then strained in a colander and quickly added to an ice water bath to retain the colour and stop the cooking process.
Once cooled strain again in a colander, form the carrot tops into a ball and squeeze out any excess liquid. Set aside the leaves to dry further while you prepare the rest of the pesto ingredients.
Before making the move back to Australia from Canada we gave away all of our kitchen appliances. Although we could have simply used a power converter for our electrical equipment that didn't seem like the best option, and downsizing possessions was a priority. So when it was time to replace our blender, food processor etc. we opted for a Ninja set.
Truth is, we were so happy to downsize the kitchen appliances and aside from a coffee grinder and a toaster, we don't have a need for anything else. Of course I only have one obvious complaint — it's all plastic. But as they say "you can't always get what you want!"
While some may like to use the food processor attachment for making pesto, I like to place all the ingredients into the tallest blender cup and blitz until smooth. Preparing the pesto this way means you can't gradually add the oil like you would if you were using a food processor, however taking the lid off adding more oil isn't that much of an inconvenience.
The great thing about a pesto is that the ingredients are a mix of kitchen staples and produce that is easy to grow in your home garden.
This simple Carrot Top Pesto recipe includes garlic, freshly squeezed lemon juice, carrot tops, fresh mint, green onions, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
I didn't have any fresh lemon juice on the day so I used my last reserves of juice I'd been storing in ice cube sizes in the freezer.
You don't need to get too fancy with the preparation of your pesto ingredients, cut your spring onions into smaller sizes, or simply tear with your hands as you place them into the blender, remove the mint leaves from the stems, roughly chop the garlic, add your fresh lemon, blanched carrot tops, parmesan and nuts if you are using those, and top with olive oil and salt and pepper.
Blitz the ingredients until you have a beautiful green pesto sauce without any lumps.
Pesto is simple to make and can be easily added to fresh pasta, used when layering your lasagna, as a dip for raw vegetables, added to cooked potatoes or poached eggs.
CARROT TOP PESTO (VEGAN)
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 5 minutes
total time: 15 minutes
- 1 cup blanched carrot tops (from 1 or 2 carrots)
- 1/4 cup mint leaves*
- 4 green onions
- 1 clove of garlic (roughly chopped)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup raw nuts or seeds**
* Mint leaves can be substituted with your choice of fresh garden herbs.
** When making this recipe no nuts or seeds were added, and it was super delicious without them.
Nuts that would be suitable for the recipe include: toasted almonds, walnuts or if you prefer a more traditional pesto style add pine nuts. I recommend adding sunflower or pumpkin seeds instead of nuts.
- Place a pot of water on stove top and bring to the boil.
- Remove stems from the carrot tops and set aside for blanching).
- Prepare a bowl of iced water (for adding blanched carrot tops).
- Add carrot tops to boiling water for approximately 2-3 minutes, until they are bright green and tender.
- Immediately remove carrot greens from stovetop and drain into a colander.
- Once hot water has been drained off the carrot tops immediately place them into the ice water mix to retain the green colour and stop the leaves from further cooking.
- When the leaves are cool enough to touch, drain the blanched spinach into a colander. Form the spinach into a ball and squeeze out any excess liquid.
- Set the spinach aside on a plate to further dry while prepping the rest of the pesto ingredients.
- If using a personal processor cup add all of your ingredients into the cup including the oil and blanched carrot tops. Blitz until the mixture forms a smooth paste. You may need to undo the top of the lid and add more oil if the pesto is not blending well.
- If using a food processor add all the ingredients aside from the olive oil, gradually add the olive oil while processing.
- Pesto is best eaten right away, it can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge overnight, however it may loose some of it's bright green colour.
Author Bio - Catherine Anne Earle
Thanks for reading. I'm Cathy the founder of EORTH Australia, an online store that stocks only plastic free products.
I started EORTH after participating in a Plastic Free July many years ago. A few days into the Plastic Free July challenge I soon became aware of just how damaging plastics were to the environment, and although I was conscious of my consumer choices, products packaged in single use plastic and household products from of plastic materials were still very high on my list of purchases.
After lengthy searches for alternatives to plastic products I soon realised that there were a lot of eco stores that sold some plastic free products, but very few really got down to the heart of the plastics issues and said a big hard "no" to selling products that contained plastics — and that is exactly what EORTH is all about.
I have a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Management and was the owner and founder of Sun Peaks Independent News, a community newspaper based in British Columbia, Canada.
After moving back to Australia several years ago I now reside in Palm Cove a beachside suburb in my hometown of Cairns — the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.