This recipe is really all about the carrot tops and transforming them into something delicious to eat rather than tossing them or composting them (although the latter isn’t a bad thing to do).
I hadn’t thought about carrot-top pesto in quite some time until I bought a lovely bunch of carrots for a recipe I was developing for one of my clients. The tops were intact, healthy-looking, and emerald green. It’s as if they were inviting me, actually daring me to make them into something delicious (you know how sassy those carrots can be).
Here’s the recipe.
Carrot Top Pesto with Pasta and Diced Carrots
Makes about 2 cups pesto
Pasta recipe serves 4
- 5-1/2 oz. coarsely chopped carrot top greens, about 3 cups
- 2-1/4 oz. coarsely chopped fresh dill, about 2 cups
- 2-1/2 oz. pistachios, about ½ cup
- 4 large cloves garlic, grated
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 1-1/2 Tbs. lemon juice
- 1-1/2 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, about 1/3 cup, more for serving
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup olive oil, more for drizzling, if desired
- 12 oz. pasta of choice
- 2 large carrots, small dice, about ½ cup
- Lemon wedges, for serving
Put the carrot top greens, dill pistachios, garlic, zest and juice, cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in a food processor.
Pulse until finely chopped, then process about 30 seconds. With the machine on, slowly add the oil through the feed tube, continuing to process, scraping down the bowl occasionally, until well combined, about 1 minute. Adjust the seasonings. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Toss with enough pesto to coat the pasta, using the reserved pasta water to thin the mixture to desired consistency. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Divide the pasta between the bowls, top with a drizzle of olive oil, if desired, the diced carrots, and serve with additional cheese and lemon wedges.
I’d love to hear from you if you decide to make it. You can freeze whatever you don’t use and use it for a dip for a crudite platter or dollop over any kind of grilled vegetable (followed by a drizzle of olive oil and some flakey sea salt, of course).