Save these gems from the compost bin, add some maple syrup and ginger, and you have a delicious pesto!
I have to admit, most of the time I have used carrot greens, or tops, as an addition to the stock pot so as not to waste them, or occasionally added a few leaves to salads. But I was really ignoring both their lovely flavor and nutritional components. So I started experimenting.
This side dish is root to stem at its best. Every inch of the carrot is deliciously edible! The greens themselves are a bit like its family member parsley, a tiny bit bitter and grassy, but with a subtle after-flavor of carrot. However, the best reason to avoid the compost bin is the nutritional content of these scraps that are usually thrown away.
Use as you would parsley, mint, or basil
You can use them raw or cooked in any dish where you would add parsley, mint, or even basil. A nice garnish, yes, but think soups and salads, stir-fries, guacamole, or, as in this recipe, a vibrant pesto.
With no fat and no cholesterol, carrot greens are a great source of Vitamins A, K, and C, iron, calcium, magnesium, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrient rich chlorophyl. The greens are a detox star, and are also beneficial to the immune system, digestion, and bone health.
Nope, not poisonous!
So no, they are not poisonous, although they used to have the reputation. I believe this misconception arose because of the similarity in appearance between the wild carrot and hemlock!
This recipe makes more pesto than you need, so stash it in the refrigerator and use it to top other vegetables!
I plan to serve this at Easter dinner this year.
Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto
- 1 bunch of carrots with tops (about 12)
- 1/4 plus 1 tbsp. cup dark amber maple syrup, divided
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves
- Knob fresh ginger
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lemon, juice and zest
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Srub the carrots and cut off the tops, you do not need to peel them. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Chop the tops and save for the pesto, and reserve a few leaves to garnish if you like.
In a food processor, combine 3 tbp. of the maple syrup, the olive oil, garlic cloves, ginger, and salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth, and remove one third of the mixture to the waiting carrots. Massage the mixture evenly over all the carrots and place on the middle rack of your preheated oven.
While they are cooking, add the chopped carrot tops to the remaining mixture in the food processor and add the lemon juice and zest. Process to smooth, adding a bit more olive oil or water to loosen up if necessary. You can also use a mortar and pestle if you like.
Of course, you can also add some nuts for texture if you like!
Roast the carrots until they are tender and caramelized. My carrots were small, so it only took 18 minutes, larger carrots would, of course, take longer.
Place the carrots on your serving dish and lightly drizzle the remaining tablespoon of maple syrup. Spoon over the pesto, and garnish with a few leaves if you like.
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