This carrot greens pesto recipe is a delicious way to use up carrot tops and limit food waste. It comes together in about 5 minutes and only has 6 ingredients!
Carrot greens pesto - or "poor man's pesto" as I like to call it 🙂 - is the perfect way to use up those beautiful leafy greens attached to market carrots. Carrot greens are so earthy, flavorful, and the leaves are totally edible. It's basically a little added bonus whenever you buy carrots!
Now, if you're thinking, why on earth would I want to use carrot tops instead of basil, I hear you. But there are two big reasons why. The first is that you are limiting food waste when you use the entire vegetable. It's not only healthier for us to eat whole foods but also it's better for the environment when we limit waste. The second reason is that basil has a very short season whereas carrots do not. Translation: pesto isn't just a summer sauce! You can enjoy this recipe year-round!
So, think twice next time you purchase carrots. And, now that you have this fool-proof carrot greens pesto there's no excuse. This recipe comes together in about 5 minutes, only has 6 ingredients, and should last at least a week in the fridge (or indefinitely in the freezer).
How to enjoy carrot top pesto
- With roasted vegetables
- As a pasta sauce
- Spread onto a sandwich
- With animal protein
- On top of eggs
Basically, anything you'd eat traditional basil pesto with!
Are carrot greens healthy?
Yes! These leafy greens are packed with vitamins and minerals. There's just one catch: since the greens are above ground, they are more exposed to pesticides and chemicals. For that reason, it's best to use organic carrot greens.
Recipe substitutions and adaptions
In its classic form, pesto is made with basil, pine nuts, and parmesan, but it can be enjoyed in so many different forms - like carrot top pesto!
Carrot tops: If you don't have enough carrot tops, you can add blanched basil, spinach, or just cut the recipe in half!
Pistacchios: I really like the sweetness of pistacchios in a pesto, but you can substitute them for almost any nut you have on hand, or even seeds. Walnuts, pine nuts, and sesame seeds are my go-to's if I'm not using pistacchios.
Parmesan cheese: This is where the saltiness comes in. If you are vegan or dairy-free, you can omit the parmesan cheese. Just add salt and nutritional yeast to taste.
Olive oil: If you can, use a high quality extra virgin olive oil. The olive oil really shines in the pesto, so it's important you use a good one!
Lemon: I always put lemon in my pesto, but I know a lot of people don't. It adds just the right amount of brightness and tang, so I highly recommend it!
How to store the pesto
Depending on how fresh your ingredients are, you may be able to store the pesto in the refrigerator for about a week. If you don't need the pesto right away, you can also store it in the freezer. I like to freeze the carrot greens pesto in ice cube trays, so I can thaw exactly how much I'll need.
- 2 cups organic carrot tops (leafs, not stems), coarsley chopped
- ⅔ cup toasted pistachios
- 2 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½-2/3 cup olive oil
- ¼ parmesan cheese, grated
- (optional) tablespoon of fresh dill
- Add all ingredients except oil to food processor and pulse a few times.
- Drizzle ½ cup of olive oil to the food processor. For a thinner consistency, add up to ⅔ cup. Scrape down and continue to pulse until creamy.