Carrot tops are full of flavor and nutrition, so make this quick and delicious carrot-top pesto and serve with soups, roasted veggies, salads, or simply spread on toast!
While carrots are available year-round, currently fresh young carrots are in season. Just to clarify, they have nothing to do with the bags of “baby carrots”! Young carrots come with their big spray of leafy greens; they are soft and sweet with a hint of herby flavor.
Last weekend I had bought a big bunch at the farmer’s market. The vendor always asks if I want the carrot leaves or should he remove them. And I am like, “Of course! I want the carrot greens too!” We don’t see too many carrot-tops recipes around and they aren’t very popular in any restaurant either but you can and you should definitely eat the carrot greens.
Uses for Carrot Greens | Carrot-top recipes
Carrot greens have a distinct earthy, sharp, and bitter taste which is why they are not as versatile as other leafy greens. The thicker part of the stem is also a bit tough and fibrous so I use only the feathery carrot greens and keep the stem for cooking vegetable stock.
Carrot-top pesto is my go-to recipe with carrot greens. It goes great with pasta, salad, soups, and also roasted vegetables. However, the fresh carrot greens can be used as herbs or salad greens or to make a salsa verde or chimichurri.
Carrot Top Pesto
Ingredients (1cup = 240ml; 1tbsp = 15ml; 1tsp = 5ml)
- 1 cup Carrot leaves
- 1 clove Garlic
- ¼ cup Pine nuts
- 2 tbsp Olive oil extra virgin
- 1 tsp Lemon juice
- 1 tbsp Nutritional yeast optional
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Remove the carrot leaves from the tough stem. Throughly wash the leaves under running water. *
- Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add more olive oil if required.
- Check the seasoning and transfer to a glass jar. Stays good in refrigerator for 2-3 days.
- *The stems at the end were very hard so I keep them for stock and use only the soft part of the stems for the pesto recipe.
- Nutritional yeast adds a creamy cheesiness to the pesto but it is optional and if you don’t have it and/or if you are not vegan, go ahead with some parmesan or completely opt it out.
- Nutritional info is the approximate value for 1 tbsp of ½ cup pesto.
Health benefits of Carrot Leaves
- Carrot leaves have 6 times more Vitamin C than the carrot root! They are also a good source of Vitamin K, which is actually not there in the root per se.
- They are rich in Potassium and Calcium. It is the high amounts of Potassium in the carrot leaves that gives them a slightly bitter taste. Potassium helps control osteoporosis, lower blood pressure, and promote healthy metabolism.
- The greens are rich in chlorophyll, which is an excellent source of magnesium. Magnesium promotes healthy blood pressure, strong bones, and muscles.
Source: The Carrot Museum
How will you use carrot greens in your kitchen?
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It is definitely a delicious addition to salads and soups. But I was more thrilled about using the carrot tops for the first time. In India and also elsewhere most often I have bought carrots without their green leafy stems.. so this was a wonderful experiment :-).
Thanks for this and idea. I purchased some carrots with gorgeous leafy tops and didn’t want them to go to waste. I tried this and it’s delicious!
Thank you Paige!
Yes Carrot leaves are so delicious to be wasted! 🙂 I am so glad you tried it and loved it!
lots of love,