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Carrot top pesto makes quick, zesty work of leftover carrot greens. Use it anywhere you’d use traditional pesto.
We often buy carrots from our CSA or at the farmers market that have tops attached. It feels silly to just toss them, when they’re perfectly edible!
It turns out the fronds are excellent for making pesto when fresh basil isn’t available, which is always when I find myself craving it.
Mixed with olive oil, cheese, and whatever nuts you have on hand, this carrot top pesto has a bit more bite to it than basil pesto.
It is wonderful as a pasta sauce, pizza spread, or even just slathered onto crackers and eaten with tomatoes.
Carrots are closely related to dill, parsley, and fennel, so the leafy fronds of the carrot are a logical herbal ingredient. If you’re wondering what to do with carrot tops, this pesto is the perfect recipe!
Making carrot top pesto
You’ll first need to remove the carrot greens. Slice them off the carrot and store the carrots for another use.
You’ll mostly use the carrot leaves rather than the stems, so don’t worry too much about them. Remove any thick, tough stems, however.
We need three cups of greens for this recipe, which is about the amount from one bunch of carrots.
Then, with the processor running, stream in the olive oil and lemon juice until the pesto is smooth.
Taste, and adjust seasonings as desired.
If you want a thinner pesto, add a small amount of water at a time until desired consistency is achieved.
Now you’re ready to use this easy carrot pesto!
Substitutions and additions
Don’t feel tied to the variety of nut for pesto.
I used slivered almonds for this batch because it’s what I had on hand, and I encourage you to use whatever nuts you might already have.
Walnuts, almonds, and pistachios are all great for this recipe. You could even try it with cashews or swap the nuts for pumpkin seeds!
Make sure you get plain nuts for making pesto. If you need to use salted, do not add additional salt until after tasting.
Of course, you can use pine nuts if you like, but this is a delicious pesto without!
Swap some of the carrot leaves for fresh mint, cilantro, or green onions.
For the cheese, any hard Italian cheese will do. Instead of parmesan, try asiago, pecorino, or grana padano.
Want to make this pesto vegan? Use nutritional yeast instead of the cheese.
How to use carrot top pesto
You can use this recipe anywhere you’d normally use basil pesto! It’s great for more than just pasta, too.
Blend it with sour cream for a creamy dip.
Use it to make pesto eggs or add to scrambled eggs.
Spread on chicken before baking, or stir into mashed potatoes.
Add it to bread for a deliciously herby snack. I like to mix it with tomatoes for bruschetta!
The carrot top pesto will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a long time. The carrot tops don’t lose their vibrancy as much as basil does, but you can add a thin layer of olive oil on top to help preserve the color.
Pesto also freezes well. I portion it into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, just pop them out and store them in a freezer bag.
I encourage you to make carrot top pesto the next time you need a sauce. It might just become one of your favorite recipes!
Carrot Top Pesto
- 3 cups packed carrot tops, about the amount from 1 bunch of carrots
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup grated asiago cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Cracked pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Place carrot tops, almonds, garlic, cheese, salt, and pepper in a food processor and pulse until well chopped. Pour in the olive oil and lemon juice while pulsing, and blend until smooth.