Don’t discard those leafy green carrot tops! Use them to make this delicious carrot top pesto with a difference. Fresh tasting, healthy, and a definite change from the usual. Naturally nut and gluten free. Easily vegan, Keto, Paleo and Whole 30 friendly!
Carrot Top Pesto Recipe Introduction
I’m always looking for easy ways to add some extra vegetables to my diet, as well as to reduce food waste, and when I am fortunate enough to get a bunch of carrots with their tops I always make a batch of this carrot top pesto.
It would be tragic to waste the tops – they are delicious and an all too rare treat as here in the UK supermarkets seldom sell carrots with their tops.
Reasons you will love this Carrot Top Pesto
- It is an easy, simply and delicious way to use carrot tops – something that is often thrown away making this a frugal recipe
- It is a variation on classic pesto – pesto without basil is also delicious
- This carrot top pesto is naturally gluten free
- I’ve used seeds rather than the classic pine nuts to make a nut free pesto
- Although the recipe uses Parmesan or other grana type hard Italian cheese, you can easily substitute a vegetarian hard cheese, or some nutritional yeast to make a vegan pesto
What are Heritage Carrots?
Carrots used to naturally come in yellow, white, black and purple before the Dutch breed the large and uniformly orange variety in honour of the House of Orange and the national colour of the Netherlands.
Sadly heirloom carrots are not widely available from supermarkets but are popular with vegetable box schemes and can often be found in local farmers markets.
If you get the chance do buy some, they are smaller, more tender and have far more flavour than their orange cousins.
How to Make Carrot Top Pesto
Step 1 – Wash the carrot tops well to remove the sand or grit, then spin in a salad spinner. Add with the rest of the ingredients (roughly chop the Parmesan or other cheese), to a food processor, mini chopper or blender.
Step 2 – Whizz all the ingredients together until you have a paste; scrape down the sides, check the seasoning and add more salt or pepper if needed.
Can I Freeze Carrot Top Pesto?
Sure you can – either pack into small glass jars and freeze, or portion into a silicone ice cube tray and then pop the pesto cubes out and store in a sealed plastic bag or air tight container until you are ready to eat it. It’s a great way of keeping the flavours fresh.
How do I serve Carrot Top Pesto?
Here are a few things you can do with carrot top pesto as well as use as serving with homemade fresh pasta or with risotto.
- Add to some fried chicken for extra flavour
- Add to soup as a garnish
- Blitz with breadcrumbs and use as a coating for chicken. Dip the chicken in a beaten egg and the pesto and breadcrumb mixture and fry
- Add more oil and use it to flavour a couscous or lentil salad
- Swirl a spoon into dips
- Spoon this carrot top pesto onto a pizza for a extra flavour
- Add to roasted root vegetables – see our original serving suggestion below, where we roasted the carrots with some halloumi before topping with carrot top pesto
- 75 g carrot tops – about two large handfuls – washed well and spun in a salad spinner
- 75 ml good quality olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 30 g seeds (a mix of sunflower and pumpkin)
- 40 g Parmesan (roughly chopped)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Simply place all the ingredients into a blender of food processor and blitz until you have a pesto like paste. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
- Keeps in the fridge for 3 days.
- Keeps well in the freezer: either in a jam jar, or frozen into individual portions in an ice cube tray, then transferred to a sealed plastic bag.
- You can vary the seeds that you use according to taste.
- Substitute a vegan hard cheese or nutritional yeast to make this vegan
- This recipe is 4 Weight Watchers Smart Points per portion
Recipe for carrot top pesto originally published October 2014, updated with new photos August 2018.
Original photo and serving suggestion.