My friends, Jen and Pete, have a farm in Tyringham, Massachusetts called Woven Roots Farm. I’ve known them for over a decade and they’ve been farming even longer, but ever since I tasted the first salad they brought to a potluck when our babies were all really babies, it’s been clear to me that their vegetables are… special.
I try to explain what this mysterious special quality is when Woven Roots comes up in conversation, but the best way I can do it is to talk about their butter lettuce, which Jen will often gift me if she knows I’m having a hard week. She knows I love it that much. She’ll bring me a few ruffled, purple-tinged heads tucked into a bag, and instead of washing and dressing it as I do every other head of lettuce in my life, I eat it right then and there, leaf by leaf, tearing it off the heart and shoving the whole leaf in my mouth. Their spinach has higher sugar levels than candy, and there are countless picky kids in this county who won’t touch a single vegetable except Jen and Pete’s carrots (of which they’ll consume pounds at a time).
And of course, when you grow carrots that special, you should probably make use of the greens. Yes, you can make pesto from carrot tops, and yes, it’s really good. Jen sent me this recipe way back in August when they were drowning in carrot greens and she started experimenting. I’ve had to tweak it a bit, as her recipe made use of more carrot greens than I will ever see in my lifetime. But I’ve scaled it down with great success.
Carrot Top Pesto
(with big thanks to Jen Salinetti)
makes just under 1/2 cup
2 cups (lightly packed) cleaned, dried, and roughly chopped carrot greens (large stems removed beforehand)
1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
1. Combine the greens and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fit with the chopping blade. (The smaller the food processor the better here, as the greens might escape the blade in a large machine.) Pulse until the the greens are finely chopped.
2. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Process until you have a thick pesto, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a silicon spatula if you need to. Taste, and add more salt if needed.
sue/the view from great island says
I love the idea of expanding our horizons to use foods that we generally overlook — I just posted spiced crab apples the other day for that same reason! This pesto sounds incredible, I’ve got to go find some fresh carrots!
Oh! I wish I’d known about these earlier this season when we were getting beautiful baby carrots from the CSA! I will definitely try it next year!
pam (sidewalk shoes) says
And I thought I was being a little wild when I made spinach pesto!
Margo, Thrift at Home says
wow! I do usually keep the carrot tops when they come on the carrots at market, but I just wash them and freeze them and use them as the green in my meat stocks in the winter. This is so cool.
Also, we have a farmer at market whose lettuce is like the ones you described. So pretty and so tasty and he’s always so modest and aw-shucks about it. He has transformed my ideas of lettuce and I’ve always loved green salads!
I’m so glad you posted this, I hate throwing the greens away, and always looking for things to do with them. I made a soup once out of Deborah Madison’s book that used the tops, but I always love finding new ways to use the “un-usable” parts of veggies.
What a great idea. Love it!
What a great idea! I’ve made radish leaf pesto, which is fabulous, and put a few carrot leaves in soup or a salad, but why not pesto? I’m going to feel so much better about buying those baby bunches now 🙂
Also wondering what you use it for most often?, and do you ever put cheese or nuts in it? as I notice it’s a very pared down combination…
Hi Beck, This is super lemony and flavorful, and I’ve found my favorite use for it is just to dip crackers or veggies in it. I think it would be great with nuts too (walnuts, I think for this one), but there’s something really nice here about the simplicity of the greens, lemon, and garlic. But if you play with it, let us know what you do!
I tried it with the addition of walnuts, very nice 🙂
Oh, good! Thanks for reporting back 🙂
Kim Cummings says
I received some fennel from a farmer the other day and made fennel frond pesto! It was so good – never thought to use it that way until I just happened to see a recipe for it online. I think you are awesome and you’re writing is beautiful. Thank you!
What a fantastic idea for a recipe. We harvested about 6-7 gallons or so of carrots this year from our garden. I’ve never tried eating the tops, but they don’t go to waste. We have several rabbit hutches right next to the garden and every time we go in the garden, the rabbits are on high alert to see what tasty treats they get. They devour the carrot tops faster than anything else. They simply love them. Bugs bunny had it all wrong. 🙂
I have used carrot tops in soups and salads, in place of parsley etc., but I love this idea. I will do this next garden season.
What a great use of carrot tops! Unfortunately my oldest son is highly allergic to carrots! What a bummer that is. He even has to wear gloves if handling them. No more V-8 juice, roasted carrots with parsnips, carrot cake or carrots with pot roast. It’s amazing all the various prepared foods that have carrots as ingredient. Rather not have to make the trip to the emergency room, so we just don’t grow/buy/eat them.