I hate to waste food. There are a million reasons why everyone should hate wasting food, and food waste is a serious topic for so many (including me). But I’m not going to dig into any of those serious reasons here because, one, I bet you know all of them already and, two, Carrot Top Pesto is meant to be all light and airy and not at all serious. In fact, I make Carrot Top Pesto most weeks as a way to play with my food.
Since I hate to waste food, I play an unspoken game with myself each week. It’s called “How Can I Use Up All The Perishables In The Fridge Before I Refill It!” GO! Alright, the title needs work but it could for sure be a game show. It probably is a game show and, considering the vigor with which I approach this game, I should get myself on that show pronto.
I play this game seven days a week, three times a day. At breakfast, I toss swiss chard stems and random farm fruit into my smoothies. I make a huge kitchen-sink-style salad for lunch, that brims with whatever is hiding out in the crisper, cuddled up with a fried egg. And every night’s dinner showcases every other vegetables until I’m left with no produce in the fridge.
Carrot Top Pesto came to life the moment I nibbled on the fluffy, frond-like ends. Too pretty to ignore, they are fresh and green tasting, almost herbal or tea-like in taste. Meaning, you definitely know they came from the ground, in a good way.
I tame a little of the herbiness by adding a handful of basil leaves. Then lots of nuts, garlic, and lemon juice bring it to life. In my version, I add pine nuts but you can replace that with pistachios, pecans, or almonds; I’ve used all three with uniquely stunning results. When I visited Ireland’s Ballymaloe Cookery School in May, I met April Bloomfield who cooked from her latest cookbook, A Girl and Her Greens. She used walnuts and parmesan cheese in a very delicious version.
Whatever you end up tossing into your pesto, be mindful of the carrot stems. The fluffy tips are light and playful but as you look further down, the thick stems are snappy and a little rough. Do yourself this favor and exclude the rough parts.
After a quick whiz, your pesto emerges brilliantly green. It’s not a fussy food gift. It’s the sort I keep in the back of my fridge for a week or two’s worth of meals – dollop some into a taco or whisk some with more lemon juice and olive oil for a quick dressing. And don’t forget the old standby of tossing with strands of hot pasta. I love to make Carrot Top Pesto omelettes, too, by adding a tablespoon in just before I fold over the eggs.
When gifting Carrot Top Pesto, tuck a jar beside the bunch of carrots from which you stole those fronds. They get to be back together again and you’re gifting an instant dish, because carrots roasted in this pesto, oh my gosh. Let me know how else you use it, okay?!
Add all ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Whiz for 30 seconds and check the texture. I prefer a chunky pesto and typically stop there. If you prefer a very smooth pesto, whiz for 1 to 2 minutes.
1 clean jar
1 rubber band
1 scrap of paper
Fill clean jar with pesto. Wipe rim and seal.
Place a rubber band around the neck of filled jar.
Write label on scrap of paper and tuck it in between rubber band and jar.