I used to be the girl that asked for the carrot tops to be cut off and composted. But then I learned better.
I have been frantically flipping through the pages of the new cookbook Root to Stalk Cooking by Tara Duggan lately (hello: chard stalk relish with pine nuts). As such, I have been inspired to put all kinds stalks, tops and other things to good use.
What would have once been destined for the compost bin is now a new ingredient, challenging me to find a way to incorporate it into a dish. This is of course good for the overflow of CSA carrots lately, which come complete with tops and dirt still on, as if you had just pulled them from the ground yourself.
Stick your nose in a bunch of carrot tops and you get an earthy, green smell, and you wonder how they will ever fare in a dish. But if you don’t experiment, how do you learn?
My parents have for quite some time now been putting carrot tops into their green smoothies, to the extent that I went along with them to the food co-op pick up once, and there was a special bag of carrot tops with my father’s name marked on it. “Your mom said he likes them in his morning smoothie so we threw in some extra,” the volunteer told me. Of course.
I for some reason though hadn’t experimented with them until a few days ago.
As it turns out, carrot tops are perfect for an easy pesto (just like kale). I added in a few mint leaves for good measure, because there happens to be a pot of mint just outside the kitchen window and it’s hard to not add a few leaves to absolutely everything, but you can certainly get away without them.
I like to use this pesto as a spread. It’s perfect on a warm slice of gluten-free bread and topped off with a fried egg for breakfast.
Carrot Top Pesto
Carrot tops from 4 to 5 large carrots
1/2 cup (60 grams) raw hazelnuts
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) olive oil
1 clove fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Juice of half a medium-sized lemon
Leaves from a sprig or two of mint
Black pepper to taste
Rinse the carrot tops and remove the stalks and any parts that are discolored – you want the fresh green stuff.
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. If it’s too chunky, you can add in some more olive oil. For an idea of what the consistency should be like, I should note that I make this pesto to be a little textured and spreadable, not a runny paste. Then use it as a spread, a dip or just as a side to roasted root vegetables.
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