Carrot Top Pesto

Carrot Top Pesto

  • By Cate Whittington
  • /
  • July 2016-Vol.2 No.7
  • /


For years, the tops of my carrots have either been tossed into soups or relegated to the compost bin. Not any more!

One day this past spring, I was helping out in the garden of an elementary school in Charlottesville. The garden coordinator, employed by City Schoolyard Garden, was harvesting carrots with the children. A subsequent cooking lesson involved using all parts of the carrots for their snack: roasted carrots with carrot top pesto.

I have made pesto with a variety of herbs, but why, I asked myself, hadn’t it ever occurred to me to use the tops of the carrots?  What a great idea! A Google search uncovered a plethora of recipes, of which Rachel Ray’s was my favorite.

The recipe printed below is a slightly modified version of Rachel Ray’s recipe. She uses her pesto as a coating for pasta, but it is equally good drizzled over roasted carrots (pictured) or slathered on a baked potato. Serve the pesto as a garnish for hard-boiled eggs, spread it on a chicken sandwich, or toss it into carrot soup. Or, enjoy this delectable sauce as a wonderfully nutty accompaniment to your favorite dishes. You’ll never toss those carrot tops into the compost again!


  • 2 cups leafy carrot tops
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs (e.g. tarragon and parsley), optional
  • 2 small cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup toasted nuts (almonds, pine nuts, macadamia, or combination of these)
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 5-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  1. Cut the tops from one bunch of carrots (6-8 medium carrots). Trim the stems and soak the greens in cold water. Drain well.
  2. Place the drained carrot tops in a food processor, together with herbs, garlic, nuts, lemon juice and zest, cheese, and garlic.
  3. Pulse into finely chopped mixture. Then, stream in olive oil until the pesto begins to pull away from the sides of the food processor.



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