Sending the leafy tops of your root veggies to the compost bin? So last season. It turns out the greens from some of our fave fall veggies are not just edible but delicious. Case in point: this shockingly delicious carrot top pesto we whipped up after a recent farmer’s market trip.
While often relegated to either the compost or back into the hands of your market vendors as food for their livestock, carrot tops are actually nutritional powerhouses, thanks to being packed with potassium and chlorophyll (a major anti-inflammatory), among other nutrients.
Heard a nasty rumor that these greens are poisonous? While “they do contain alkaloids and nitrates – which some people can be sensitive to in the same way that others are sensitive to potatoes, eggplants, and other nightshade plants – they aren’t toxic unless you eat them by the bushel,” according to the Vegetarian Times.
In other news: the greens of your bag of beets can be sautéed (stems and all!), while turnip greens are a southern food staple (aka collard greens) and a great source of Vitamin A, as well as potassium and magnesium.
While there are plenty of recipes out there for carrot top pesto (making us wonder where we’d been all this time), we made ours from this one by Yup It’s Vegan. We have written out their ingredients and instructions below. Enjoy!
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- 2 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 of a lemon)
- 1 tsp fresh lemon zest (about 1/2 of a lemon)
- carrot tops from 1 large or 2 smaller bunches of carrots (yields 1 cup blanched)
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
- 4 green onions fresh green parts only
- 1/2 cup raw walnuts (optional)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
To blanch the carrot tops: remove thick stem pieces. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water in it. Once boiling, add the carrot tops to the pot. Stir occasionally, cooking for about 3 minutes or until bright green and tender. Immediately remove from the pot, drain the hot water, and add the carrot tops to the ice cube bowl to stop the cooking process.
Drain the carrot tops, wring out excess liquid, and spread them on a plate to dry while you do the remaining recipe prep.
Add all of the ingredients from garlic through walnuts (if using) to the food processor. Blend until a chunky paste forms with small bits of carrot tops. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to stop frequently to scrape down the sides. Add the olive oil a tablespoon at a time until combined. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice if desired.
To use as a pasta sauce, cook your pasta in salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Add the reserved cooking water and carrot top pesto, stir to combine, and cook over low heat until warmed. Serve right away.
Otherwise, once cooled to room temperature, store the pesto in the fridge in an airtight container for several days. The bright green colour may fade to a slightly darker green, and this is totally normal.