Meatless Monday Challenge

5-Minute Carrot Top Pesto

on March 31, 2023
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Don't toss your carrot greens! Use the subtly sweet, earthy greens to make this Carrot Top Pesto in just 5 minutes.
Carrot Top Pesto on a pink plate with two lemon wedges

Looking for a delicious recipe to make the most out of your fresh carrots? This Carrot Top Pesto is not only incredibly delicious, thrifty, and anti-food waste, it’s also super easy to whip up and comes together in just 5 minutes!

With fresh lemon juice, whole garlic cloves, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and a combination of earthy, fresh carrot greens and sweet, herbaceous basil, this homemade pesto recipe is absolutely packed with flavor. It elevates any meal with a punch of vibrant color and taste.

In this recipe, you will learn about different uses for carrot greens, how to prep them, and how to whip up a delicious pesto. You’ll also master how to store leftovers and the best uses for pesto in a variety of different dishes.

Dunking toasted bread into Carrot Greens Pesto

As an environmental scientist, I always prioritize being more sustainability-minded in the kitchen. Making my own homemade sauces and dressings is one of my favorite ways to lower my contribution to environmentally damaging microplastics.

Green tip: Making your own sauces and syrups is a great way to avoid extra plastic packaging that eventually ends up in landfills or makes its way into the environment and becomes microplastics.

Carrot Top Pesto Ingredients


Here’s everything you need:

  • Carrot greens. Don’t toss the greens from your fresh orange, yellow, or purple carrots! They’re delicious, nutritious, and perfect for pesto!
  • Basil. I love adding both carrot greens and basil to bring a little extra sweetness to combat the bitter aftertaste of the carrot greens and add an extra touch of citrus. However, if you want to leave out the basil and double the amount of carrot greens, that works, too!
  • Lemon juice. You’ll need two tablespoons of lemon juice, which you can typically get from just half of a fresh lemon.
  • Pine nuts. Pine nuts are great in this pesto because they are super buttery and make for a creamy texture, but you can substitute walnuts, cashews, or almonds with a similar outcome.
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic cloves go a long way in this recipe.
  • Olive oil. Blending the oil into the other ingredients is what gives you a creamy, saucy texture.
  • Parmesan cheese. To thicken and add flavor.
  • Salt & pepper. To season and ramp up the other flavors.
ingredients for carrot top pesto - carrot greens, pine nuts, salt, garlic, pepper, olive oil, parmesan, basil, lemon juice

Carrot Green Pesto Tips and Tricks


How to Prep Carrot Greens

Carrot greens should be rinsed or soaked before consuming. Since the carrot leaves have nooks and crannies, soaking them is the most effective way to clean them!

Bear in mind that we don’t want to add extra liquid to our pesto, so once soaked or rinsed, the carrot tops will either need to sit for about 5-8 minutes to dry or be patted dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel to absorb excess moisture.

Make sure to lay them flat on a clean surface or kitchen towel and let them air dry or very lightly pat them dry.

Green tip: Paper products contribute to deforestation. Consider these bamboo paper towels! Bamboo naturally regenerates every few months, whereas trees cannot regrow once harvested.

How to Use Carrot Greens

Fresh orange, purple, and white carrots often come with a generous amount of leaves or carrot greens, that are often chopped off and discarded.

However, these carrot greens are not only 100% edible, but also packed with both flavor and nutritional value. So, instead of discarding my carrot greens, I keep them!

Green tip: Check when carrots are in season where you are with this Seasonal Food Guide!

The carrot tops have a subtly sweet and deeply earthy taste, with a slightly bitter aftertaste. The taste can be placed somewhere between sweet basil and parsley, making them perfect for a pesto.

Aside from this delicious carrot top pesto, carrot greens are great for the following uses:

  • Chop them up and add them to a salad with your other greens
  • Chop them up to use as fresh and flavorful garnish atop your roasted carrots
  • Add to vegetable soup in addition to or in place of other greens
  • Add a little bit to smoothies or green juice to add extra nutrients
  • Add to a stir fry or sauté with spinach or other greens
Orange and purple carrots with a lot of greens on top

How to Easily Peel Garlic

Using fresh garlic goes a long way in this and any pesto recipe. In order to add your garlic to the food processor with the rest of your ingredients, you have to peel it first.

My go-to technique for peeling the outer layer of the garlic off is by crushing it first. Lay individual garlic cloves on their side on your cutting board and use the flat end of your knife to push down on the garlic until you hear it crunch.

This will split the outer layer, making it much easier for you to peel back.

Once you’ve fully peeled your garlic, you can just add it whole to your food processor or blender.

Crushing garlic to make it much easier to peel

Use Fresh Ingredients in Your Pesto

Fresh basil, garlic, and lemon juice really bring brightness to this pesto!

You can (and should!) use both the leaves and stems of both your carrot greens and basil in this recipe. It both avoids waste and the stems actually pack a ton of flavor!

As for the fresh lemon juice, you will need 2 tablespoons, which you typically get from one half of a fresh, juicy lemon.

I use a citrus squeezer to add my lemon juice directly to my food processor. If you don’t have one, I hihgly recommend squeezing the juice into a separate container first, instead of directly into your pesto.

This will allow you to extract any lemon seeds that accidentally fall out while squeezing the lemon. Not even a food processor will be able to break a lemon seed down!

Squeezing fresh lemon juice into carrot top pesto in food processor

Use a Food Processor or High-Powered Blender

Using a food processor or high-powered blender to bring together your pesto is not only the easiest way to breakdown all of your ingredients, but it also creates and emulsion.

The oil and liquid combine together to make an emulsion which lends almost a creamy texture. Between that and the pulverized nuts, you’ll be left with a thick and creamy sauce.

Just add all the ingredients and blend on high until nice and smooth.

Adding salt and pepper to food processor to season Carrot Greens Pesto

Serving Your Carrot Top Pesto

This carrot green pesto can be served just as you would serve any other pesto. It’s so delicious, I often just dip toasted bread into it! Here are some of my other favorite dishes to use this pesto in:

Serving up Carrot Top Pesto with toasted bread

Storing Your Carrot Greens Pesto

Homemade pesto will last in an airtight container or sealed glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. You can also freeze this Arugula Basil Pesto for up to 6 months.

The pesto is safe to consume raw. Just make sure you allow frozen pesto to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Green tip: Billions of tons of food is wasted annually. Combat food waste by reducing the amount of waste you produce in your own home by properly storing food and leaving little to no leftovers.

Carrot Greens Pesto Frequently Asked Questions


Can you use carrot tops for anything?

Carrot tops can be used in addition to or in place of any other greens in soups, salads, or even as a fresh garnish. It is also a delicious green to combine with basil to make Carrot Top Pesto!

What do carrot tops taste like?

Carrot tops are subtly sweet and very earthy. They have a slightly bitter aftertaste. The best way I can describe the taste of carrot tops is a cross between sweet basil and parsley.

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Why You Should Make this 5-Minute Carrot Top Pesto


  • It’s resourceful. Avoid food waste by using your gorgeous carrot leaves to make this Carrot Top Pesto!
  • It’s vibrant. Fresh and bright in both flavor and color.
  • It’s versatile. Great for a dip, sauce, or marinade.

If you’re loving this Carrot Top Pesto and want more from-scratch fresh sauces and marinades, check out this Spicy Serrano Pepper Chimichurri and Maple Dijon Vinaigrette.

Carrot Top Pesto on a pink plate with two lemon wedges

5-Minute Carrot Top Pesto

5 from 3 votes
Marley Goldin
PIN Print RATE
Don't toss your carrot greens! Use the subtly sweet, earthy greens to make this Carrot Top Pesto in just 5 minutes.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Blending TIme 2 minutes
Total Time 7 minutes
Servings 1 cup

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup carrot greens (stems and leaves)
  • 1 cup basil (stems and leaves)
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (1 lemon = 4 tablespoons juice)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Prep your garlic by peeling it, and rinse (or soak) and dry your carrot greens and basil. Squeeze your lemon juice with a citrus squeezer, or if you are hand-squeezing, make sure to remove any lemon seeds that may have fallen into the juice.
  • Add the carrot greens, basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper in your food processor or high-powered blender.
    Overhead image of all ingredients for Carrot Top Pesto in food processor
  • Process on high until everything is finely diced. Voila! You’re done! Store or serve raw on pasta, pizza, or add more olive oil until you achieve desired consistency for a dip.
    Food processor with just-blended fresh pesto made with carrot greens

Pro Tips

Course Sauces and Dressings
Cuisine American
Diet Vegetarian
Keyword 30 Minutes or Less, 5 minute Pesto, Carrot Greens, Carrot Top, Carrot Top Pesto, Pesto
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5 from 3 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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