Carrot tops can be used raw in salads, as an ingredient in soups and even in scrambled eggs. I found a recipe for making carrot top pesto which intrigued me so I decided to rework the recipe from scratch and change the method slightly.
The result was a rich vivid green pesto sprinkled with white flecks of punchy garlic. This was balanced by sweet smoothness from almonds and extra-virgin olive oil.
After having processed and stored all of these beautiful carrots and made the pesto I wanted a dinner that was quick, easy and included the pesto. But you've things to be getting on with already so I will be sharing the roast part of this recipe with you tomorrow...
Carrot top pesto ingredients
This made about 750ml of pesto, feel free to scale the recipe to suit what you have available.
- 5 litres (a carrier bag full) of carrot tops
- 1 bulb of garlic, split into cloves, peeled and loosly chopped
- 75g whole almonds (it doesn't matter whether they are blanched or not) Hazelnuts would work well too.
- 75g parmesan, finely grated
- 300ml extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Wash the leaves to get rid of any mud and grit. Pop them in a big saucepan and boil for 2-3 minutes until the leaves are just wilted. Strain in a colander and refresh with cold water to stop them cooking. Drain completely and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
- Dry roast the whole almonds in a heavy based pan or in the microwave until they are nicely browned.
- Put the almonds, garlic and a small amount of the carrot leaves into a blender. The carrot leaves help the other ingredients process well. Blitz until the almonds and garlic are finely chopped.
- Add the rest of the carrot leaves and process until they are puréed. You'll probably need to scrape down the sides of the blender a few times to ensure even processing. Add the parmesan cheese and process until well mixed, scraping down if needed.
- What you're going to do next is to add the olive oil to make a fluid paste. Add it gradually, stopping to test consistency and scraping down the sides. You will get it to a point I call 'falling over', this is when the pesto gently falls into the blades of the processor as it turns.
- Season to taste and that's it.
The pesto will keep for a few days in the fridge. I've frozen some in ice cube trays for a winter treat.
Carl Legge lives on the Llyn Peninsula in Wales on a permaculture smallholding and writes a regular blog full of delicious recipes and more. He is currently writing The Permaculture Kitchen, a book of seasonal, local, home-grown delicious recipes for Permanent Publications, the book publishing arm of Permaculture magazine. It will be available in the autumn.