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.
Leafy Carrot Tops are Useful and Delicious.
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 carrot greens– the leafy tops are delicious and an all too rare treat as here in the UK supermarkets seldom sell carrots in this state.
Reasons You Will Love This Recipe
- 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 This 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 This 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
Easy Carrot Recipes
- Easy Carrot Salad – the classic French style carrot salad is so easy to make!
- Carrot and lentil soup – lightly spiced frugal and warming!
- No Mayo slaw – Quick, easy and with a rainbow of vegetables
- Sandwich Spread – recreate this British classic at home!
- Crudité platter – Carrots star in my ultimate cruditie platter – perfect for dipping and an easy way to eat more vegetables!
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.
Sarah, Maison Cupcake
That looks wonderful and reminds me of conversations I have with Nick. Only I get less sensible answers.
Ed does get a little upset and could be forgiven for wondering if I actually listen to anything that he says
lol at Sarah – I was about to say the same! Great recipe Helen
What a fabulous ideas, I would never think to eat carrot tops. I’ve often seen bunches with tops in our local Tesco so next time I see them I might well give this a try:-)
Oh – good to know that you can get them with tops in the supermarkets. Go for it Camilla, waste not want not!
I am envious of those gorgeous looking carrots. Even better that you have been able to use the tops in such an innovative way. I could also eat Halloumi with anything, love it. I never have any food conversations with my husband and I have noticed recently how he hasn’t actually cooked anything for me for months so maybe I will bring that up in conversation instead!
He absolutely should be cooking for you Laura. I do most of the food here, but Ed does do the breakfast, bread and coffee.
Sally - My Custard Pie
I have always thrown my carrot tops in the compost. When the carrot season is back and I buy them in huge bunches (complete with tops) I’m making pesto. Brilliant idea.
I made carrot top pesto to go on top of my beetroot pasta. perfect combo and such a brilliant use of the greens which people normally throw away
What a clever idea for using up carrot tops which would otherwise end up in the food recycling bin! We must all spend so much time thinking and talking about food… I know I certainly dream about dishes i’m trying to develop – especially those that are proving pesky!
I cannot imagine why anyone would throw carrot tops away.
Mmmmmmmmm! Pass that this way Helen. It looks divine. What a simple but wonderful idea.
I’ll be seeking out carrots with tops so I can make pesto in the future.
Lovely and unusual way to treat halloumi and I happen to have lots of halloumi left from a recent cookery class! That pesto looks fab x
Brilliant idea!!I never thought of eating carrot tops. Great recipe!!!
This pesto sounds delicious. I had no idea you could eat carrot tops. I will have to deliberately buy them next time I see them, just to try this out.
I love that this recipe can be nut free. Pesto so often includes nuts, which I can’t have. Perfect and tasty.
Such a good idea to use carrot tops. I always think they smell lovely, but wouldn’t have known what to do with them until now.
We love getting Heritage carrots, the kids think they are so special being different colours. I usually give our carrot tops to the rabbit, but may just have to share and get some of this made.
Homemade pesto is always so good. Using carrot tops is something totally different. Sounds delicious.
This would be really good swirled in to greek yogurt. Sounds really tasty.
Those carrots look amazing. I’ve never seen them before. Nice idea to use the carrot tops.
My supermarket is really good now for selling carrots with tops on. I shall purposely buy them now just for making this tasty pesto.
We have carrots growing in the garden still, with enormous tops! I could easily make this. Tasty and easy recipe.
I imagine I could easily eat this by spoonful! I’ve used carrot tops in soup before and they are very tasty.
Making your own carrot pesto is so rewarding! I tried this recently and it tasted great. Thanks for much for the recipe :)
Added some green onion to this and it was SOOO yummy
This was delicious! I made it vegan by using Nutritional Yeast instead of Parmesan, plus half Sunflower Seeds, half Cashews.
After blending everything, I stirred in Almond Meal.
Thank you for sharing the recipe!