Have you ever tried making a nontraditional pesto? That’s exactly what this carrot top pesto recipe is! It builds on the classic pesto recipe, but uses ingredients I had on hand to make this creative variation. I have discovered that pesto can be far more creative than the basic combination it is typically known for:
- Pine nuts
Don’t get me wrong, I love that classic combination! But, it’s also fun to mix and match and play around with flavors! I would simply describe pesto as a combination of fresh leafy greens, some type of nut, and a fat – usually a combination of EVOO and Parmesan. Although sometimes I leave the Parmesan out all together.
I love always keeping some pesto on hand. It makes for a quick and flavorful topper for fish, pork, chicken, etc. Of course tossing it with some pasta, or my favorite zucchini noodles, is an excellent option as well! I often make a batch of pesto, and then freeze in smaller portions (a couple tablespoons usually works well). That way, it is easy to pull out and use as needed.
Creating a Carrot Top Pesto
I recently came home with a big bunch of organic carrots. After trimming them I had a huge pile of gorgeous, fresh, leafy carrot tops. That got my wheels turning on what to do with a pile of greens. I decided to save them and try making a carrot top pesto!
On a side note, I would like to clear up one thing. It seems like there is a common misconception that carrot tops may be poisonous. The first time I harvested carrots from my garden, I felt guilty getting rid of half of a delicious vegetable I had grown myself! At the time though, I found a lot of conflicting information on if carrot tops are edible. So I decided to play it safe and just compost them. But looking into this again recently, I found enough reputable sites assuring me there is no problem eating carrot tops. So I decided to give it a try! (And I am happy to report I have eaten this carrot top pesto with no ill affects. :))
I used the basic pesto recipe in this Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking cookbook to get a feel for proportions of ingredients. (Find it on Amazon.) Then I customized from there.
I only had a few pine nuts in the cupboard. I decided to use those up, and then for the rest of the nuts I used walnuts. You could really substitute any type of nut in here, and play with the flavor profile too!
If you are looking for other ideas, another fun pesto combination I’ve tried is kale-arugula-walnut.
Ready to give this carrot top pesto recipe a try?
- 4 cups carrot tops (roughly chopped)
- 2½ tbsp pinenuts
- 4 tbsp walnuts (chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (roughly chopped)
- 11 tbsp EVOO (reserve 1 for finishing)
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- 1 cup parmesean reggiano (grated, reserve til end)
- Rinse the carrot tops and remove the majority of the stems that don't have leaves.
- Roughly chop the leaves and pack into a measuring cup to see how much you have - use this to adjust the ratio for remaining ingredients.
- Set carrot tops aside.
- Prep and measure out remaining ingredients.
- Add all ingredients to food processor, blender, or Vitamix.
- Pulse on medium speed, scrapping down sides as needed.
- Once blended into a smooth consistency, remove from food processor to a clean bowl.
- Mix in the grated Parmesan.
- Add up to an extra tablespoon of EVOO if it looks like it could use it. (Does it look dry or too thick?)
- Cover and chill.
- Use! This pesto is great smothered on fish, pork, or chicken before baking! Or use to flavor noodles (pasta or veggie), as a dip for bread, etc.