Bought a bunch of carrots and don’t know what to do with the tops? Make carrot top pesto! It’s the perfect zesty, zero-waste condiment.
This recipe goes out to my dear friend Berett, who is a vegetarian Ina Garten and plant lady wrapped up into one wonderful person! Berett can grow flowers (especially dahlias), vegetables, and plants like no other. She posted a bunch of carrots, tops and all, on her Instagram stories the other day, asking what she should make with them. I responded at the speed of light – carrot top pesto!! However, I didn’t have a recipe written up to share with her. Hence this new post!
My food philosophy (well, one of them) is – if it’s green, it can be made into a pesto. I live laugh love pesto. I put it on pasta, pizza, avocado toast, in soup… it’s a perfectly herbaceous, versatile ingredient!
Carrot tops are no exception to this rule. If you haven’t had carrot tops before, you’re in for a treat. Botanically, carrots are in the same family as parsley, and that’s apparent in their taste. Because carrot tops have an assertive flavor on their own, in this recipe I tone down the basil to let the tops really shine. The recipe is naturally vegan, but you can add in parmesan or asiago cheese with great success, if you’d like.
What do I do if my pesto is too salty?
Try adding more lemon juice and/or olive oil to cut through the saltiness. In general, when making a recipe, always start with less salt than you need, then add more as you go in increments.
What if my pesto is too bland?
Add more salt! While salt doesn’t have any flavor on its own, it amplifies existing flavors. A little lemon juice can also highlight flavors, too. Another option is to add a little dried basil or parsley for a little more of an herbal boost, or garlic for a savory note.
What do I do if my pesto is too watery/oily?
Add in more fresh greens, like basil, spinach, kale, or arugula to add texture and body. Just make sure any greens you add are dried completely after washing.
What is the ideal pesto consistency?
For pesto, you want it to be thick and chunky but still spreadable, as if you could spread it on toast (which of course you can!). Some might prefer a chunkier pesto (like me) where there are larger chunks of greens and garlic. Others might prefer a smoother pesto, which is delicious too. But the only universally-agreed upon thing is that pesto should NOT be blended into a homogenous paste. Part of the fun of pesto is the visible bits of green leaves!
What can I make with this pesto?
1 // Avocado Toast
4 // Swirled into a Tomato Soup
5 // As a spread in a Vegan Potato Wrap
Carrot Top Pesto
- Food Processor
- 1/3 Cup Raw Walnuts
- 2 Large Cloves Garlic roughly chopped
- 1 Bunch Carrot Tops from about 5-7 carrots
- 10 Fresh Basil Leaves
- 1/4 Cup Chives roughly chopped
- 1/2 Tsp Salt
- 1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
- Red Pepper Flakes to taste, optional
- Juice from 1/2 Lemon it must be fresh!
- 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- First, add your roughly chopped garlic and raw walnuts to the food processor. Process or pulse for a few seconds, until finely chopped but still chunky. You do NOT want to make a paste. Scrape down the sides of the food processor, so that the walnuts and garlic aren't stuck to the sides.
- Keeping the walnuts and garlic in the food processor, add in the carrot tops, basil leaves, chives, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Process for about 15 seconds or more, depending on your food processor, until the leaves are finely chopped into small pieces.
- Then, add in the olive oil and lemon juice and process everything again until you've reached your desired consistency. Scrape down the sides of the food processor if needed. Personally, I like my pesto chunky, but continue processing for a smoother texture if desired.
- Store the pesto in a jar or airtight container in the fridge until using.
- The pesto will keep in the fridge for about 5 days. Feel free to freeze it for up to 2 months in a freezer-safe container.
- If you don't have carrot tops, sub about 2 cups of fresh parsley in this recipe.
- I highly highly encourage the use of fresh herbs here, but if you don't have fresh basil, sub in 1 tsp dried basil or more to taste.
- If you don't have chives, sub in the green parts of 2 scallions, roughly chopped.
For more vegan and vegetarian recipes and meal inspiration, be sure to follow along on Instagram and TikTok! If you make a recipe, please tag me in the photo and use the hashtag #wellandfull so I can see! I love seeing your creations!