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 as people rip the tops off of their beets, carrots, turnips or radishes because, “these 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 often sell larger carrots without tops because if the greens are allowed to wilt before the carrot is harvested then most of those nutrients will retreat down into to the root, making the carrot much sweeter.  However, some customers like the prettier looking carrots with the green tops, they also started carrying those.

While the carrots with fresh greens aren’t quite as sweet, you get the greens too, which are fun to experiment with.  The most common recipe I had heard of was pesto, so I gave a simple recipe a test 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
2 tbsp + 1 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c parmesan cheese
1/4 c toasted almonds
salt and pepper to taste

Toast the almonds if you are using raw ones.  Simply heat up a skillet over medium-high heat, add the almonds to the dry pan and toss every few seconds until aromatic and starting to brown.  Set aside.

Cut the carrot tops off your carrots, rinse them well, shake dry and coarsely chop up.  You can include most of the stem but not the toughest parts.  Set aside.

Next cut the roots off of the garlic and remove any papery outer skin, most skin should be tender if the garlic is fresh.  Chop the whole thing up excluding any really dried greens on top.  If there is any dirt within the layers simply rinse out.  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 correct veggie.

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

Transfer the cooked greens to the food processor along with the toasted almonds, parmesan, salt and pepper.  Add the salt and pepper slowly as you go, to taste, I found I only needed a pinch of sea salt and pepper because much of the saltiness comes from the parmesan.

I have made double batches of this recipe but that is the most my food processor can handle without exploding.  In the freezer it will keep for months, in the fridge keep no longer than 2 weeks.

This is awesome on toast, pasta, sandwiches, mixed with mayo, in potato salad, whatever.  Enjoy!

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15 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!

  3. Terry says:

    I assume that the rest of the olive oil is added during the food-processor step? I didn’t see that mentioned anywhere.

    I just finished making this, and the taste is great but the greens are a little stringy. I cut them just where they started branching, so that the leaves (of course) and some of the stem was included but not the lower parts. Is some “toothiness” to be expected, or should I have cooked them longer in the skillet? I had cut them off the carrots and put them in a glass of water for a couple of days before I had a chance to use them, so a lot of them were already dry. I added some water to the skillet to reconstitute and was hoping this would soften them enough to get good and pureed. I processed them for a long time. Hopefully they’ll soften some more as they absorb the oil. Thoughts?

  4. Michelle Giroux says:

    Could regular white garlic be used?


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