Carrot Top Pesto

VeganGreensPesto

Don't throw away those carrot tops! Make this delicious carrot top pesto with them to toss with pasta, beans, or eat straight up as a dip.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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?

Fresh Young Carrots with carrot tops carrot greens

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 Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup of pesto

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (packed, about 40 g) carrot top greens, tough stems removed
  • 1 cup (packed, about 40 g) baby spinach
  • 1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup (63 g) roasted unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) extra virgin olive oil

Special equipment:

  • Food processor

Method

1 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.

prep carrot tops for carrot top pesto

2 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.

3 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.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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4 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Vienna

    First time making pesto and this is a good, easy to follow recipe!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Rosie

    Hi Elise. I want to thank you for this recipe. I was really just looking for a way to avoid the guilt of throwing away beautiful carrot tops, but what I found here is a recipe that will make me seek out more carrot tops in the future. Delicious! Btw, I used 1/3 cup of oil, like the previous commenter suggested. And because I am allergic to cashews, I used pecans that I toasted in a cast iron skillet. Mmmm!

  3. Chris Corigan

    I made this recipe this weekend – I saw it just as our home garden is ready for a bushel+ harvest of carrots. I was a bit skeptical of the cashews, but the end result is a mild nutty flavor not unlike the effect of pine nuts in classic basil pesto. I would suggest a bit less olive oil. We make a lot of basil pesto and the proportions in this recipe seemed a bit off. I stopped at about 1/3 cup and the consistency was about right and the end product wasn’t over powered by the olive taste. This pesto has a light nut/herbal taste and it really did go well as a dip/spread with some home made pita chips. I made a 8X batch and froze most of it in 8 oz mason jars – pesto freezes well.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Chris, I’m so glad you liked it! Regarding the amount of oil, the first batch I made I only used 1/3 cup of olive oil. I found the result a little stiff. I wanted a looser pesto to make it easier to toss with pasta, so the next time I made it I used a full 1/2 cup, which led to a smoother consistency. This ratio of 1/2 cup of oil to 2 cups of greens is what I use for our basil pesto.

Pesto made with carrot greensCarrot Top Pesto