carrot top and green garlic pesto

there are way too many misconceptions about vegetables out there that simply must be squashed.  every week at the farmers’ market i cringe at the people who rip the tops off of their beets, carrots, turnips or radishes because, “they aren’t edible…right?”  certain parts of veggies are perhaps more bitter than others, but that just means you need to know how to treat them right.

the farmers i work for usually sell carrots without tops, because if the greens are allowed to wilt before you eat the carrot then most of those nutrients will go down into to the root, making the carrot much sweeter.  but because customers wanted the prettier looking carrots, they also started carrying bunches with fresh green tops.

while the carrots themselves aren’t quite as sweet, you get the greens too, which are fun to experiment with – especially since i hadn’t cooked with them before.  the most common recipe i had heard of was pesto, so i gave a simple recipe a go with some seasonal green garlic, blended it up in my food processor and since then i must have made at least 7 more batches, it’s just that good!

stick it in a jar and freeze it to last you all year.  you’ll want this seasonal treat on everything.


carrot top and green garlic pesto
2 bunches of carrot greens (from 8-12 medium carrots or about 2-3 cups chopped carrot tops)
1 head of fresh green garlic
1 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c parmesan cheese
1/4 c toasted almonds
salt and pepper to taste

start by toasting the almonds if you are using raw ones.  simply heat up a skillet over high heat, add the almonds to the dry pan and toss every few seconds until aromatic and starting to brown.  set aside or put right in the food processor.  it’s fine if you are using pre-salted or pre-toasted almonds, if they have their own salt you may not need to add as much, if any, at the end.

prep your carrot tops, and definitely save the carrots for another recipe.  cut the carrot tops off, rinse them well, shake dry and coarsely chop up (including most of the stemy parts), set aside.

next cut the roots off of the garlic and remove any papery outer skin, but most skin should be tender if the garlic is fresh.  chop the whole thing up excluding any really dried top greens.  if there is any dirt within the layers simply rinse out, other than that chop the whole thing up, from the bottom white section all the way up to the green part.  these can look a lot like leeks so make sure to ask when you are buying them at the market to make sure you are getting the right thing.

heat up a large skillet over high heat and add in the carrot tops, green garlic and 2 tbsp of the olive oil in the pan all at one time.  cook until wilted which should only be about 2 minutes or so.

once wilted, transfer to the food processor and add all remaining ingredients.  i found i only needed a pinch of sea salt and pepper because much of the saltiness is added by the parmesan, so it is a good idea to blend first, taste, then add in the salt if needed.

i have made double batches but that is the most my food processor can handle without exploding.  put jars of the stuff in the freezer and it will keep for months, in the fridge keep no longer than 2 weeks.

it’s awesome on toast, pasta, sandwiches, mixed with mayo, in potato salad, whatever.  enjoy!


11 Responses to “carrot top and green garlic pesto”
  1. Carl Legge says:

    Lovely recipe. Just made some from our mega carrot harvest for today. Going to serve it today with a salmon & new potato salad with two-colour carrot & orange salad on the side.

    Thanks for sharing


  2. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! The chain grocery store in my town recently started selling organic carrots with the green tops. I knew I wanted to make some kind of pesto with them, but wasn’t sure what to pair them with. Your recipe looks delicious- I can’t wait to make it!


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