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