Carrot Top Pesto
Castoff those carrot tops no more! This clever carrot top pesto will give those greens a new, unexpected lease on life.
by Meghan Rodgers
March 31, 2021
I have a confession.
I had been throwing away carrot tops my whole life. Even more shameful? I would go out of my way to buy carrots that had been stripped of their greens.
I don’t like to admit that was ever me, but since then, I’ve come a long way in my appreciation for the hard work and resources farmers sink in to delivering us wholesome foods. I have also grown to get a kick out of finding “exotic” foods right under my own nose.
Carrots have these luscious, leafy green tops, and they’re completely edible! Yet, most of us either toss them in the trash or shockingly, sometimes even pay more for carrots that have had these greens removed. (Looking at you, baby carrot buyers!)
But why not enjoy every bit of healthy food you pay for? Carrot tops are high in chlorophyll that may help heal the skin and rid the body of harmful toxins. They are high in potassium and can keep your blood pressure in check. They’re also excellent for your kidneys and are rich in vitamin K, a key component in efficient blood clotting.
I urge you not to toss those tops, but instead, use them in this delicious Carrot Top Pesto. It’s an easy way to keep perfectly nutritious food out of our landfills, and it will add some excitement to your springtime lunch or dinner spread.
Enjoy Carrot Top Pesto the same way you would enjoy traditional pesto: Toss on pasta or top crostini, or better yet, dip carrots and other crudités for a zero waste appetizer or satisfying snack.
Carrot Top Pesto
1 cup lightly packed carrot tops (stems removed)
6-8 large fresh basil leaves
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp pistachios or pine nuts (or pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or whatever you have on hand!)
1 tbsp hemp hearts
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan cheese*
*Note: If making Vegan Carrot Top Pesto, omit the cheese and substitute with vegan Parmesan or omit entirely and add an additional tablespoon of nuts and some nutritional yeast.
Toast the nuts. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spread the nuts or seeds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast for about 5 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Be sure to watch closely so they don’t burn.
Make the pesto. Add carrot tops, olive oil, garlic and salt to a food processor. Process until finely minced. Add nuts and/or seeds and pulse just until chopped. Add cheese and pulse once or twice just to combine. Taste pesto and add more salt, garlic or cheese to taste.
Refrigerate in an airtight container.