Carrot Top Pesto Recipe

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This is a very easy, delicious, and healthy carrot top pesto recipe. If you grow your own carrots or buy them with the tops at the farmer’s market, it’s a great way to use the tops.


Carrots are a must in my home garden! I think that of all the vegetables that we grow we love picking carrots the most. I plant carrots in early spring right when I can work my soil. Then I plant them again in the autumn garden for winter harvest.

Whenever they are ready, the kids will literally fight over them and I have to admit that over the years I had to plant more and more of them because many didn’t make it to the kitchen (I also sell many of them at the Farmer’s market).

Carrot Top Pesto Recipe…

carrot top pesto in a bowl

We used to pull carrots from the garden, eat the carrots and toss the tops. The ducks and the chickens don’t like them much. The goats will eat them sometimes, I don’t have a compost pile (cause I give everything to the animals) and I didn’t want to throw them back in the garden because they invite the carrot fly over and that’s bad news.

But when you grow your own food, when you work so hard to plant, thin, water, and weed, it kinda makes your heart hurt to throw away anything… I don’t know where I got the idea to make carrot top pesto years ago… I just remember that one day I decided that instead of tossing the tops I’m gonna make something with them. I was so surprised with the result!

Carrot top pesto is super simple to make, very tasty, and behaves much better than basil pesto. It lasts in the refrigerator for a long time, you can freeze it in a mason jar, and it doesn’t oxidize (turns brown) as basil pesto does.

carrots harvested from the garden

Ingredients…

  • Carrot tops – I recommend that you try to use young leaves. You can use just the center leaves if you pick an older carrot or you can use the tops from carrots that you thin in the garden.
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic
  • Nuts – use any kind of nuts that you want. In this recipe, I used walnuts but you can also use almonds or pine nuts or try anything else that you think will work.
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper

Kitchen Tools…

How to Make Carrot Top Pesto…

Step one – process the nuts. Add walnuts (or other nuts) and peeled garlic cloves to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse the food processor a few times.

adding parmesan and carrot tops to the food processor

Step two – add carrot tops and process. Add Parmesan cheese and carrot tops (remove the stems and use only the leaves) to the bowl of the food processor.

adding olive oil to the processor as it's working

Close the food processor and turn it on. As it’s working, add olive oil. Keep adding olive oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. If you like it a bit more runny, add a little bit more oil. If you like it thicker, add a bit less. You might need to stop a couple of times and scrape the bottom of the food processor to make sure that nothing is sticking to the bottom. Lastly, add salt and black pepper to taste.

How to Store Carrot Top Pesto…

  • In the fridge – transfer your pesto into a small container or jar to store in the fridge. It will last for a few weeks.
  • In the freezer – carrot top pesto also freezes very well so if you made more than you can eat fresh, just add it to half-pint mason jars, close the jars with a freezer lid and store them in the freezer. Carrot top pesto should last at least a year in the freezer.

How to Use Carrot Top Pesto…

  • As a spread – spread carrot top pesto on toast, add it to any sandwich, or spread it on crackers.
  • As a dip – make it a little on the runny side and use it as a dip (it’s a great appetizer). You can use chips, pretzels, or pita chips to dip in it.
  • In baked goods – fold it into bread dough before baking or use croissant dough to make cheesy pesto rolls…
  • As topping – try using carrot top pesto instead of pizza sauce when you make pizza at home. It’s delicious with feta cheese, olives, and dry tomatoes as toppings.
  • In sauces – use this carrot top pesto to make creamy pesto pasta sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions…

Can I use tops from any carrot variety?

Yes, you can use carrot tops from any variety. If you happen to grow purple carrots or yellow carrots in your garden or if you came by them at the farmer’s market, they will all work. Just make sure to use the young leaves simply because they taste better.

Any suggestion for different cheese?

I love substituting parmesan for asiago cheese. Any other kind of hard cheese should work.

Which nuts can I try?

Pine nuts, almonds, and walnuts are the ones that I tried and they all work great.

Does carrot top pesto turn brown?

No, carrot top pesto doesn’t oxidize and turn brown as basil pesto does. It should stay green and beautiful!


This carrot top pesto recipe is really simple and takes just a few minutes to put together. I think that you’ll be surprised by how tasty it is. I love that I now have a way to use another part of my crop, that less is going to waste, and that I found a way to produce one more thing from a vegetable I grow anyway. I hope you’ll give it a try!

More Carrot Content on the Blog…

More Delicious Recipes to Try…

Carrot Top Pesto

Carrot Top Pesto

Yield: Approximately one cup.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Simple, healthy, and tasty carrot top pesto recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 oz carrot tops (leaves only)
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Step one. - to the bowl of the food processor, add the walnuts and garlic and pulse the food processor until they are combined.
  2. Step two - add the cheese and the carrot leaves. Turn the food processor on and while it's working, add olive oil until the paste reaches your desired consistency (I added approximately 3/4 cup).
  3. Step three - add salt and black pepper to taste. Store in the fridge or freeze.

Notes

Frequently Asked Questions...

  1. Can I use tops from any carrot variety?
    Yes, you can use carrot tops from any variety. If you happen to grow purple carrots or yellow carrots in your garden or if you came by them at the farmer’s market, they will all work. Just make sure to use the young leaves simply because they taste better.
  2. Any suggestion for different cheese?
    I love substituting parmesan for asiago cheese. Any other kind of hard cheese should work.
  3. Which nuts can I try?
    Pine nuts, almonds, and walnuts are the ones that I tried and they all work great.
  4. Does carrot top pesto turn brown?
    No, carrot top pesto doesn’t oxidize and turn brown as basil pesto does. It should stay green and beautiful!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 85Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 53mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g

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2 thoughts on “Carrot Top Pesto Recipe”

  1. Hi,
    I never knew that carrot tops can be use. I use to throw them but thanks for the recipe which I will use now in 2016. Happy New Year.Thanks for sharing the healthy green recipe with us. Which otherwise we use to toss out in compost.

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