Stop throwing away these little strands of healthy deliciousness. Carrot greens are full of so much goodness and actually have a really great subtle flavor. Slightly carrot-like, if not a little more bitter, these leafy greens are great in salads, or in something super versatile like a carrot top pesto. Homemade pestos are great for batch-making and then freezing for later use.
Can You Eat Carrot Greens
Carrot greens are loaded with vitamins and minerals and should definitely become a staple in your kitchen rather than something that is chopped off and thrown away.
They are super versatile and make a great carrot greens pesto, extra leafy bulk in a salad, or even added to something like a homemade hummus for something a little bit different.
How To Use Carrot Greens In A Carrot Top Pesto Recipe
Treat carrot tops more like a herb than a salad leaf and use them for homemade pesto, using up whatever you have on hand such as:
- Nuts and/or seeds
- Any leftover herbs (for this recipe I use cilantro/coriander, but you can easily use something else like parsley)
- Any leftover cheese. I use parmesan but other cheese can work also, or if you want to keep it dairy-free then use some nutritional yeast for a vegan pesto.
Make sure you give the carrot leaves a really good wash, it is so easy for dirt and/or sand to be stuck in there, which you don’t really want to eat. If you find you are getting a gritty texture from the leaves then they haven't been washed well enough.
Once you have rinsed the leaves be sure to pat them dry with a paper towel or a clean dishtowel. If you do not you may end up with a watery pesto, which can be quite unpleasant.
What Other Ingredients Are Needed For This Carrot Top Pesto Recipe?
I list the ingredients here that I regularly use, but to be honest, this is such a versatile recipe and lends itself well to being changed up depending on what you have on hand.
You will need:
- Carrot tops
- Smoked almonds (see below)
- Coriander/cilantro leaves
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
A Note On Ingredients and Substitutions
Smoked almonds are a new taste sensation I have discovered lately, and I have been adding them to anything and everything.
In Australia you can buy them at Harris Farm and some well-stocked supermarkets.
In The US I know for sure you can get them at Trader Joes.
Corriander/Cilantro goes really well with the carrot greens in my opinion, and seeing as I tend to pair it with dishes such as pumpkin soup, it works really well.
If you prefer something a little more subtle, then use up some parsley instead.
Parmesan is something I regularly have on hand.
The version of parmesan I buy is vegetarian, however, a true Parmesan will have rennet in it and therefore not be vegetarian. If you are vegetarian then be sure to read the label properly before purchasing.
If you are vegan you can always sub this cheese out for some nutritional yeast instead.
Tips For A Smooth Pesto
Don’t overcrowd the food processor. You may have to add some carrot tops, blitz until reduced in size, and then add some more.
If you do overcrowd they will likely get stuck around the blade and the whole mixture will stop moving.
If this happens, just remove some of the mixture and pop it into a bowl on the side. Blitz and then slowly add some more carrot leaves back in through the food pushing shoot as you continue processing.
Sometimes just giving it a quick pulse can be enough of a jolt to get it moving again.
How much you blend and how much olive oil you add is going to depend on how smooth you like your pesto.
I like pushing mine to the point where it really lightens in color as the oil emulsifies, but there is still a bit of chunkiness from the nuts.
If you want to push it further so that it is super smooth then just add some more oil and let it blend for a bit longer.
How To Use Carrot Top Pesto
Now you have the pesto, what are you going to do with it?
Like I have said, this pesto recipe is super versatile, so there are lots of ways to use it.
I like to:
- Spread it on a sandwich or a wrap in place of butter, mayonnaise or avocado
- Plop a nice big dollop into some soup (this particular version pairs really well with glowing pumpkin and carrot soup)
- Serve it on top of simple and scrumptious roasted dutch carrots
- Add to this Warm Pesto Chicken and Cheese Dip
- Use it in this One Pan Creamy Pesto Gnocchi Recipe
- Use it as a dip with some crudités like baby carrots, cucumber, celery
- Use it for puff pastry pinwheels
- As a marinade for some chicken or fish
- Mixed into some pizza sauce
- Added to some cooked pasta for an easy dinner
The options are limitless, you just have to use some imagination!
How To Store Carrot Top Pesto
This stores well in a glass jar with a lid for up to 5 days in the fridge.
Just note, that once it has been sitting in the fridge for a day or two the color will change from a lighter green to a darker green. This is normal.
Any longer than that and I would put it into the freezer and store until ready to use.
To freeze you can either separate the pesto into ice-cube trays and then once frozen, pop out the individual cubes and transfer them to a freezer-friendly bag or container. This is great if you are just going to need a little bit at a time.
If you are going to need more then you can store in a glass jar. I usually store a half cup at a time, which is enough for adding to pizza and pasta sauces.
It should last around 6 months in the freezer, if not longer.
Need more pesto/zero waste recipes?
Check these out:
- Oregano Pesto
- Quick Kale and Walnut Pesto
- Warm Pesto Chicken and Cheese Dip
- Fennel Fronds Pesto
- Quick and Easy Pesto Broccoli Rice
- Chicken Mushroom Pesto Pasta from The Cooks Pyjama's
Carrot Top Pesto Recipe
- High speed blender
- 3 tablespoon smoked almonds (see notes)
- 2 cups carrot tops washed and dried and chopped roughly
- small handful coriander/cilantro leaves
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lemon juiced
- 3 tablespoon parmesan cheese grated (see notes if vegetarian)
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Add almonds to the blender and blend until only slightly chunky.
- Put the carrot tops and herbs into a food processor and blend until smooth (see notes).
- Add the garlic and lemon juice (you can also add the zest if you want), and blend again for a few seconds until combined.
- Add in the parmesan and then slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the mixture is still blending. Contiue adding the oil until you reach the desired consistency (I like my pesto to be relativey smooth with no bits, others like it quite chunky).
- Add salt and pepper to taste and give the mixture a quick pulse to make sure it is all mixed together
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Can also be frozen (see notes).
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.