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. I’ll show you step by step how to make carrot top pesto. You can find the recipe card below.
Carrots are a must in my home garden! I think that from 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 even though I love to freeze carrots and freeze shredded carrots (so they are ready for carrot cake), not many of them make it to the kitchen.
We eat most of our carrots fresh, right from the garden as a snack.
I love it because it saves me some kitchen time (preparing snacks for the kids) during the busy growing season.
Carrot Top Pesto Recipe…
When you grow your own food, when you work so hard to plant carrots and thin them and water them and weed and so on, it kinda makes your heart hurt to throw away anything.
We used to pull carrots from the garden, eat the carrot 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 is bad news.
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.
What Kind of Carrot Tops Are Good For Pesto?
You can use tops from any variety of carrot. They are all good to eat.
The best thing about growing your own food is that you get to try different varieties. You might choose to grow purple carrots, round carrots, yellow carrots, short carrots, or long carrots…
The tops of all of them are great for pesto, however, 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.
I usually thin my carrots in two stages. The first time that I thin my carrot bed is when the seedlings are about 4” tall. The second time that I thin my carrots is when they already developed a root but the carrot is still small.
We use those as a snack and their greens are fresh and young and perfect for carrot top pesto.
If you use tops from older carrots they might be a little bitter. But the young tops aren’t bitter at all and taste faintly like carrots.
Tools That We Are Going To Need…
Ok, before we start, let’s gather our kitchen tools. Here is what we are going to need to make this carrot top pesto…
Food processor – to process the pesto.
Measuring cups – to measure the ingredients.
A spatula – to help us take the pesto out of the food processor and mix it by hand a bit.
A jar or a small container – this pesto freezes really well so if you want to freeze it make sure that you have a jar with a freezer lid. If not, you can keep it in the fridge either in a jar or in a small bowl.
All right, now let’s make carrot top pesto!
How to Make Carrot Top Pesto…
I start by adding 1/2 cup of walnuts and two peeled garlic cloves to the bowl of the food processor.
I tried making this pesto with both almonds and pine nuts but I have to admit that I like the walnuts the most.
Regardless, feel free to use different kinds of nuts and see what you like best.
Next, I pulse the food processor a few times…
And then I add 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and 3 oz of carrot tops (approximately 3 cups).
I’ve also tried this pesto in the past with Asiago cheese and it tasted really good.
Before I add the carrot tops, I make sure to cut off the stem. I only use the leaves.
I close the food processor and turn it on. As it’s working, I add olive oil. I keep adding olive oil until the pesto reaches my desired consistency.
I ended up adding about 3/4 cup of olive oil. If you like it a bit more runny, add a little bit more. If you like it thicker, add a bit less.
Once everything is blended together to my desired consistency, I transfer the pesto to a bowl and add salt and black pepper to taste.
How to Store Carrot Top Pesto…
After I add salt and pepper to taste I usually transfer my pesto to a small container or jar to store in the fridge.
It will last for a few weeks in the refrigerator.
It also freezes very well so if I made more than we can eat fresh, I add it to half-pint mason jars, close the jar with a freezer lid and store it in the freezer where it will last for months (I usually use all of my frozen food within a year).
How to Use Carrot Top Pesto…
We use carrot top pesto manly in sandwiches just as we would use basil pesto (in fact their taste is very similar).
I’ve never cooked with my carrot top pesto before so I am not sure to tell you how it behaves when heated but it might do exactly the same as basil pesto.
We use it as a spread before adding muenster cheese or roasted turkey to a sandwich. It goes really well with mayo or just by itself.
It’s also great to eat it on crackers or pretzels with some cheese.
This carrot top pesto recipe is really simple and takes just a few minutes to put together. I think that you’ll be surprised with 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!
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- 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
- To the bowl of the food processor, add the walnuts and garlic and pulse the food processor until they are combined.
- 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 of a cup).
- Lastly, add salt and black pepper to taste (I sometimes transfer the pesto to a mixing bowl and then add salt and pepper and mix well).
- Store in the fridge or freeze.
Make sure to remove the stems and use young carrot top leaves.
Instead of the walnuts, you can try almonds or pine nuts. They all work well but my favorite is the walnuts.
Instead of the parmesan, you can use Asiago cheese. It's really tasty and works great.
Carrot top pesto will last a few weeks in the fridge and months in the freezer.
We use it mainly as a spread on sandwiches or with crackers.
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