There is absolutely no need to discard those lush green leaves/tops from the new season's carrots. Instead, put them to a good use with my zero-waste, carrot top pesto recipe.
If you've ever wondered what to do with carrot tops aka greens only to end up discarding them, my carrot top pesto recipe comes to the rescue.
Those lovely, bushy, leafy greens are full of flavour which to me is a cross between parsley and rocket (arugula), really pleasant.
When carrot leaves are fresh and lush, there really is no reason not to use them in your cooking instead of adding them to your compost heap.
Now more than ever, it is really important to try and avoid food waste as much as we possible can. Not only is it great for the planet but also for our wallets!
For another zero-waste, planet friendly recipe you might want to try my Wild Garlic & Walnut Pesto. Perfect if you enjoy some spring foraging.
✔️ Why you'll love this recipe
- Easy, tasty, zero-waste recipe.
- Fresh, zesty, lemony and herby flavours.
- It's really versatile and can be used in the same way as any other pesto.
- Cheap recipe that focuses on what you already have with minimal extras.
- Freezer friendly.
- Vegan & gluten and dairy-free plus can be made nut-free if needed.
📝 Ingredients and substitutes
Here's what you will need to make my Carrot Top Pesto:
Carrot Tops - Or carrot greens or carrot leaves (whatever you want to call them).
I started with a bunch of carrot greens approx. 100g in weight which ended up 50g after trimming tough stalks.
Basil - I went for added basil in my pesto as had some already but you could use 100% carrot tops here. Mind you, flavour will be slightly different.
Also, you could sub basil with mint, parsley, or even dill for a different flavour profile. Baby spinach leaves would work nicely here as well for that extra nutrition.
Walnuts - I used walnuts as they can be grown in the UK and I wanted to make this pesto as sustainable as possible.
You can of course use pine nuts as in standard pesto if you wanted to or any other nuts of choice (cashew nuts, almonds).
If you're nut-free try using pumpkin or sunflower seeds instead.
Garlic - Standard ingredient in any pesto, tons of flavour. You could sub it with wild garlic when in season.
Lemon Juice - It ads lovely zesty and fresh vibe to any pesto.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Go for the best one you can afford for maximum flavour.
If you don't happen to have it you can still make this pesto by using good quality oil of choice e.g. cold-pressed rapeseed oil.
Salt and Pepper
Water - Not really a proper ingredients, although I suppose it is (we often take it for granted). It will help us emulsify our pesto, reducing the need for too much oil.
Optional Extras - Sometimes I like to add couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast to my pesto for extra flavour so feel free to add some too.
Ingredient quantities & detailed instructions to be found in recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Give carrot tops a thorough wash making sure there is no dirt hiding anywhere.
Pat them dry or use salad spinner (my preferred method).
Cut off tough bottom stalks of the carrot leaves (make sure to keep them for that veggie stock you've been wanting to make).
Add all ingredients (except water) into the bowl of food processor and give them a whizz until coarsely pureed (you might have to scrape the sides of the bowl half way through).
Taste, adjust seasoning and whizz again, this time adding a little bit of water, bit by bit until you reach desired consistency.
Taste and season again, perhaps you'd like more lemon juice or touch more salt and pepper.
Whizz again (if you've added anything) and once happy with the flavour and consistency you are ready to serve.
Store: Carrot top pesto will last in the fridge for about a week or longer.
Top Tip: Cover your pesto with a little bit of olive oil (just to cover the top) to extend its shelf-life.
Freeze: Pesto freezes really well and if you freeze it in small portions (in ice cube trays) you will have a little flavour booster on hand whenever you need to.
For best flavour freeze for up to 3 months.
Defrost: Overnight in the fridge or add frozen to stews, soups, risottos for extra flavour.
🍴 Serving suggestions
Use it as you would any other pesto.
- Stir it through pasta.
- Drizzle over veggies. Try it with Roasted Purple Sprouted Broccoli or Air Fryer Asparagus.
- Use for making risotto.
- Drizzle over soups (take a look at my Soup Recipes for inspiration)
- Add to stews and casseroles as a flavour booster.
- Use it as a marinade.
- Use as a dipping sauce. It would go great with my Vegan Vegetable Fritters, crudités or baked polenta chips.
- Mix it with good vegan mayo to make pesto mayo to spread on your sandwiches. Heaven!
💭 Pro Tips
To make this pesto truly zero-waste don't throw away tough stalks you cut off your carrot tops. Instead use them to make homemade veggie stock.
Follow your flavour preferences and adjust seasoning with more or less salt, pepper, lemon juice etc. Same goes for consistency so add more or less water until you reach the one you like.
As far as consistency goes, remember it's easier to add than take away so start adding water slowly.
Feel free to gently toast the nuts in a dry frying pan to bring out that extra nuttiness. Be careful not to burn them though as that will make them bitter.
Cover your pesto with thin layer of olive oil on top to extend its shelf-life in the fridge.
Yes you can. They're perfectly edible with flavour profile similar to parsley but with a touch of bitterness.
Beside making carrot top pesto you can use them as you would parsley by using as garnish, adding to soups, stews and casseroles or eating raw in salads.
First of all cut or twist off the tops to prevent them from drawing moisture away from your carrots.
Wash leafy greens thoroughly, dry and store in the fridge (in the crisper drawer) wrapped loosely in the moist paper towel in reusable zip style bag.
This way they should last good few days.
Have you tried my Carrot Top Pesto?
Please consider giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in recipe card below and share your views or tips in the comments.
😋 More vegan sauces
Carrot Top Pesto
- 50 g carrot tops/greens/leaves weight after trimming tough stalks
- 30 g fresh basil see notes
- 1-2 cloves garlic according to your taste
- 60 g walnuts see notes
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice or to taste
- 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil see notes
- 2-3 tablespoon water to adjust consistency of your pesto to how you like it
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast optional extra
- Give carrot tops a thorough wash making sure there is no dirt hiding anywhere. Pat them dry or use salad spinner (my preferred method). Cut off tough bottom stalks of the carrot leaves (make sure to keep them for that veggie stock you've been wanting to make).50 g carrot tops/greens/leaves
- Add all ingredients (except water) into the bowl of food processor and give them a whizz until coarsely pureed (you might have to scrape the sides of the bowl half way through).30 g fresh basil, 1-2 cloves garlic, 60 g walnuts, 2 tablespoon lemon juice, 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- Taste, adjust seasoning and whizz again, this time adding a little bit of water, bit by bit until you reach desired consistency.2-3 tablespoon water
- Taste and season again, perhaps you'd like more lemon juice or touch more salt and pepper.
- Whizz again (if you added anything) and once happy with the flavour and consistency you are ready to serve.
- Nutritional information is approximate, per 125ml (½ cup) jar based on 2 jars and doesn't include optional nutritional yeast.
- See Ingredients & Substitutes for more information on ingredients used and recommended substitutes.
- Used best extra virgin olive oil you can afford but if you don't have any you can still make this pesto using any other good quality oil e.g. cold-pressed rapeseed oil.
- Store in the fridge for approximately a week or freeze for up to 3 months. For more info see Storing.