Pesto is a favorite and is so easy to make. But fresh basil is not the only option for making pesto. Use carrot tops to make Carrot Top Pesto and turn food waste into food delicacy in under 10 minutes. In a blog post on goingzerowaste.com from a couple of years ago, Kathryn stated, “There are so many creative ways to use food. Before walking anything out to the compost bin, ask yourself, “Is there anything else I can do with this?”
I use my carrot tops as a bed for veggie trays and then I reuse them to make Carrot Top Pesto.
I love the challenge of using up whatever I have. A number of years ago I bought a bunch of carrots to make Carrot, Ginger and Red lentil Soup, and thought why not make use the carrot tops and make pesto. This was before I began my studies in holistic and culinary nutrition, so I did some research first and found out that carrot tops are not poisonous as some folks believe. Carrot greens do contain bitter alkaloids that act as part of the plants defence mechanism, but that doesn’t make them poisonous. Chocolate contains an alkaloid too, theobromine, and nobody is going to convince us that chocolate is toxic (unless one has a specific sensitivity to compounds in chocolate). Some countries in Europe even sell carrot greens in their markets.
This time of year, when carrots are fresh from the garden they’re beautifully displayed with their long, wispy green tops at farmer’s markets. Typically, market vendors will ask if you want the tops removed and they take them back home to compost, or to feed animals on their farms. Opt to keep the tops on and take them home to make your own Carrot Top Pesto. If you want to make extra to freeze you could even offer to take some of the extra tops off of their hands by offering to fill a bag with carrot tops from their take-home bin. I’ve done this on more than one occasion, and I’m always asked if I have rabbits at home.
Making Carrot Top Pesto is simple and requires just a few ingredients: carrot tops, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, nuts, nutritional yeast and salt. I like to use walnuts for their nutritional profile.
Health Benefits of Walnuts
- One of the highest plant-based sources of omega-3s which help reduce inflammation and are needed for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
- A good source of vitamin B6 and folate to support brain health.
- Contain anti-inflammatory tannins, flavonoids and phenolic acids.
- Contain melatonin, which is important for sleep regulation and circadian rhythm, and tryptophan which is an important precursor to the mood hormone serotonin.
- A source of fiber
- Have higher antioxidant activity than any other nut.
For more inspiration for your carrot tops ohmygreens has put together a great compilation of recipes for you to try.
Carrot Top Pesto
- 4 cups lightly packed carrot top greens washed and stems removed
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ⅓ cup walnuts or nuts of choice
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼-½ tsp sea salt (to suit your taste)
- ⅓ -½ cup olive oil
- In food processer, process carrot greens until well chopped.
- Add remaining ingredients except olive oil. While the food processor is running, gradually add olive oil. Begin with 1/3 cup and add more if needed, to desired consistency.