I recently came across a recipe for pesto using carrot tops. So since I had them, I made it. And oh my, this is definitely worth giving a go. And then it got me to thinking, what else can I make with them?
Like parsley, carrot tops have a subtle flavour. Actually perfect for pesto. An easy recipe, but as usual, I substituted with what was in my pantry. And as usual I didn’t measure wholeheartedly. Here’s how it went:
Carrot tops – use only the leafy bit, not the stems, enough to loosely fill a mixer bowl. Whizzed until chopped. Small garlic clove added – whizz. (You can actually omit the garlic if you prefer.) Small handful of walnuts – whizz. (I used walnuts as they were to hand. In hindsight, I would use almonds or cashews. I think the lighter flavour would work better with carrot tops. Still, it was delicious with walnuts, but use less because of their stronger flavour.) Pinch of salt and pepper – whizz. You should be just about at the texture of pesto, maybe a little more leafy. Whizz until you almost have the texture you want. Then… A glug of olive oil to bind. Add more if you wish your texture to be more smooth and wet.
We have a lot of carrots still in our garden. As it is one of our favourite vegetables, we planted a lot of seeds and are still reaping the bounty. To discover that the carrot tops too are edible is a real bonus. We simply love no waste when it comes to food. A chance to use up the whole of the veg, as it were, is something not to be passed up.
Time to discover what else to do with these tops.
The ubiquitous salad of course. In fact, depending on season and what you have planted in your garden, a delicious salad can be made from beetroot leaves, radish leaves, dandelion leaves (heck, the whole dandelion in fact), spinach leaves, parsley, thyme, tarragon, rose petals, wild violets (including the leaves and stem), and of course any salad leaves you have about.
Delicious salad idea out of the way, what else is on the menu?
After salads, soup usually springs to mind. And carrot tops are not to be left out here. In fact you can make a wonderful summer or winter fresh soup from them.
This time we start with an onion. In a large saucepan, sauté the chopped onion until translucent. Now add in 2 chopped up medium potatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring so things don’t stick. Carrot tops next and 500 ml / 2 cups of stock. Veg or chicken stock work best with this. Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes. Potatoes should be soft when done. Let cool if you need to before putting in a mixer (or use a handheld mixer) and whizz. Re-heat and serve.
For the more measured version, check out My Parisian Kitchen
Thinking along more unusual lines, how about these?
Carrot Top Hummus – Seriously delicious. And super easy. Substitute peanut butter if you don’t have tahini (which is ground sesame seeds and easy to make, as are all ‘nut’ butters).
Root to Stem Smoothy – this is super delicious and refreshing. Love the ginger addition. (I leave out the ice cubes on colder days and replace with a little water or orange juice for the consistency I like.)
Carrot Top Omelette – anything you might use parsley in, try substituting carrot tops.
Carrot Top Chimichurri Sauce – a sort of salsa you can also use to flavour meats or veg dishes, including roasted carrots!
Carrot Top Quiche – you use the whole carrot in this one. (You can also use radish or beet tops, but as this is about carrots, we’ll stick to carrots.)
Another one that uses the whole carrot – Carrot and Tops Tempura.
And lastly, but certainly not least, one of those stares you right in the eyes and you still don’t see it. Next time you cook carrots, leave the tops on. Carrot Top Carrots. (You can substitute parsley if you can’t find carrots with tops on.)