While carrots are available all year round, the best season for carrots is in the spring, and in the spring you can often find carrots with their feathery green tops still attached.
(Cue Bugs Bunny chomping on a carrot, "what's up doc?")
If you happen to buy carrots with carrot tops, I urge you to think twice before throwing the carrot tops away! You've paid for them, and if they are still fresh and green, you may as well use them, right?
Carrots are in the same family (apiaceae) as parsnips, coriander, fennel, and parsley. Not surprisingly the carrot greens taste a lot like parsley!
A little bitter, a little carrot-y. Greens from younger carrots are milder than those from older carrots.
Carrot tops are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. Use them as you would parsley, or in place of parsley in recipes. Strip the leaves from the tough stems, add them to stock or soup, put them in salads, or make chimichurri.
Or make this carrot top pesto. I promise you this pesto will change your mind forever about carrot greens.
Since carrot tops are slightly on the bitter side (like parsley), we are using equal amounts of baby spinach and tops for this pesto. You could also swap out some of the greens in other pesto recipes with carrot tops.
How to use carrot top pesto? Like any other pesto. Mix it with pasta, serve it as a dip, add it to baked smashed potatoes, toss it with white beans, or go all in with carrots and serve it as a spread over roasted baby carrots.
Carrot Top Pesto
1 cup packed carrot top greens (about 40g), tough stems removed
1 cup packed baby spinach (about 40g)
1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup (63g) roasted unsalted cashews
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup (118ml) extra virgin olive oil
Prep the carrot tops:
Rinse the carrot top greens to dislodge any dirt. Pick out and discard any dry, yellowed, or otherwise unappetizing looking leaves. Discard tough stems.
Pulse greens, garlic, cashews, salt, pepper in food processor:
Place the carrot tops greens, baby spinach, chopped garlic, roasted cashews, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Pulse several times. Scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula.
Slowly add the olive oil:
While the food processor is running, slowly pour in the olive oil in a steady stream. Scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula. Pulse until smooth.