Carrot Top Pesto

Carrot Top Pesto

Not sure about you, but my fridge is currently loaded to overflowing. So many things coming out of the garden (and the CSA box, and the neighbour’s garden) with greens on top that almost take up more room than the things themselves – the beets and carrots, mostly. I manage to cook beet greens sometimes, and always hate throwing the carrot tops away, but once in awhile I manage to turn them into a batch of pesto. Yes! They’re green and good for you.

Carrot greens

I love a bunch of carrots with their tops. If you trim the feathery green leaves, you can use them just like any other leafy greens you’d use to make pesto – I like adding a handful of fresh basil, if it’s around, to give it a more pesto-y flavour, and beyond that it’s just nuts, garlic and Parmesan cheese, with a glug of olive oil to loosen everything up. Creamy nuts, if that makes sense, are the best – pine nuts are currently about the same price as platinum, so you could substitute cashews or walnuts. Or almonds, if that’s what you have. The garlic is also at its best, sticky and garlicky (it isn’t always!), and if you have some smooth garlic scapes lingering in the fridge with no particular destination, pesto is a perfect vehicle. Extra-aged Gouda is also amazing in place of the Parmesan.

If you wind up with too much pesto to use in a reasonable length of time, I like to make a sort of pesto chain for the freezer by dropping spoonfuls intermittently on a strip of plastic wrap, folded in half lengthwise. You fold the plastic over it and twist in between each blob, making links of pesto you can freeze. When you need some pesto, snip a blob off the end.

carrot top pesto
carrot top pesto

Carrot Top Pesto


August 21, 2017


1/4 cup cashews, pine nuts or walnuts

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 loosely packed cup carrot greens

a small handful of basil leaves, if you like

1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan

juice of half a lemon

1/4 cup(ish) olive oil



1In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the nuts and garlic until well blended and coarsely ground. Add the carrot greens, basil, Parmesan and lemon juice and pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until well blended. With the motor running, pour the oil in through the feed tube until the pesto is the texture you like, scraping down the side of the bowl and adding a pinch of salt if needed (the Parmesan is salty, too). Makes about 3/4 cup.


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4 comments on “Carrot Top Pesto

  1. Anne Csak
    August 21, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    I was gifted lots of baby carrots, which I pan roasted and the tops became Pesto. I also made Chickweed Pesto again this year. I swirl it around pasta, vegetables and have been known to add to scrambled eggs.
    Thanks for the latest road trip, sounds yummy.

    Annie Csak

    • Julie
      August 22, 2017 at 2:48 pm

      YUM! Yes, I think Epicurious did roasted carrots with carrot top pesto – sounds like a brilliant combo!

  2. Lynne Cowe Falls
    August 22, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Loved your piece on the Eyeopener this morning! I also cut celery leaves up to freeze and sometimes include them in my herb-olive oil frozen cubes. Great way to add aromatics to the wok/fry pan. But! You forgot to mention the possibilities of dehydrating! With all the tomato skins I’m drowning in as I make salsa, sauces etc., I found the solution in Batch (an amazing book). Dry them, grind them into powder and use them to thicken stews.

    • Julie
      August 22, 2017 at 2:47 pm

      Oh yes, brilliant! The segment got cut a big short this morning – so much to say about preserving!!

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