Earlier in the week I made pomegranate roasted carrots, and they were delicious. After preparing the carrots I had a bunch of feathery carrot tops fanning across my bench. Heidi from Apples Under My Bed mentioned that she keeps carrot tops to make pistou or pesto when we looked in her fridge, and I was inspired to try it.
Root vegetables are givers. Radish, beetroot, turnips and carrots not only have tasty, colourful roots, they all have edible leaves. Carrot leaves can be bitter, so although you can eat them raw in a salad, they’re better off mingling with other elements in a stock, being mellowed with some heat in a frying pan or being whizzed into a pesto.
This recipe is a cross between a pesto and pistou. I didn’t have any parmesan to hand, but I did have walnuts, which go so wonderfully with carrots in a carrot cake, I thought they’d make a good guest appearance in this pesto. The result is sharper than a traditional basil pesto, the bitterness from the greens and the lack of creamy pine nuts make for an altogether earthier, more robust marriage, but it has its charms. The lemon keeps it fresh and the greens are vaguely carroty, bringing a vibrant flavour to whatever you pair the pesto with. Here’s some ideas:
- Stir through cooked wholemeal spaghetti and serve with grated parmesan on top
- Spread on grilled lamb chops
- Add a dollop to a bowl of vegetable soup
- Combine with a nice melty cheese and some roasted pumpkin in a grilled cheese sandwich
This pesto is super cheap to make, uses up something that was destined for the bin and pays one meal forward to the next, creating beginnings for more meals. Nice one.
Carrot Top and Walnut Pesto
- Green tops from one bunch of carrots (mine came from about 450g/1 pound of carrots)
- 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil (to get the consistency you like)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 handful of walnuts
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place washed carrot tops in the bowl of a food processor with the garlic, lemon juice and walnuts. Add 1/4 cup of oil and process. Add more oil and process till you get a nice pesto-like consistency. Season.