I’m sure we’ve all had pesto at one point or another. It’s a versatile sauce that has many uses: pastas, pizza, sandwiches, salads, dips, spreads, etc. It’s also versatile in that it can be made with many different combinations of ingredients. Of course, classic pesto is made with basil and pine nuts. I’ve made it many times with spinach. But after getting some beautiful carrots in my CSA with big bushy greens still attached, I researched what I could do with them. And Carrot Top Pesto came up. I first tried it 3 weeks ago, and I’ve since made it every single time my CSA has brought me more carrots. I shared some of this delicious pesto with my friend who I split the CSA with, and she insisted that I publish the recipe so she could make it too. Now you all can!
Of course, you need carrot tops to make carrot top pesto, and you often can’t find them at the grocery store. So, maybe you’ve got a garden or signed up for a CSA. Otherwise take a trip to your local farmers market and pick up some carrots with the greens still attached. You’ll want to use only the leafy parts (that look kind of like parsley) and discard the tough stems. Oh, and don’t forget to save the carrots to make something else.
I decided to go pretty traditional for the rest of the ingredients, except I used walnuts instead of pine nuts. I pretty much never use pine nuts when I make pesto of any sort. They’re too expensive and I don’t want to keep them on hand for the few batches of pesto I make. Walnuts are a great substitute and I almost always have some hanging out in my freezer. You’ll also need olive oil, garlic, salt and Parmesan. And you’ll need a food processor. You could maybe get away with using a blender, but mine just really isn’t that great so I didn’t even bother trying. You’re going for a pretty smooth consistency, so chopping by hand isn’t going to cut it (pun intended – Haha!)
One of my very favorite things about pesto is that it’s totally freezer friendly. Which is a good thing, because no matter which type you make, this is definitely the season to do it. But a person can only eat so much pesto at once – a little bit goes a long way. I like to freeze mine in ice cube trays, then pop the pesto cubes out into freezer bags for longer term storage. That way I can take only as much as I need for a meal (a cube or two) and the rest can stay in the bag until I need it.
- 2 cups carrot tops washed with stems removed
- 1/3 cup walnut halves toasted
- 2 cloves large garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Add carrot tops, walnut halves, garlic and salt to the food processor. Turn food processor on and pour in olive oil. Stop food processor and scrape down sides. Add Parmesan and continue to process until smooth.
Pesto is not exactly a low calorie condiment. Though I wouldn’t really call it “unhealthy”, it is definitely very high in fat, and therefore calories. However, it’s flavor packs a big punch too, so you really only need to use a little bit at a time. Keep portion control in mind especially when it comes to pasta, where calories can add up very quickly.