Carrot top pesto is an inventive way to use every part of the vegetable. The tender greens reflect the flavor of the carrot itself. This pesto can be served as a dip with crudite or as a topping to bruschetta that has been smeared with fresh goat cheese. It’s also perfect simply tossed with pasta.
Carrot Top Pesto
Makes about 2/3 cup
1 cup lightly packed carrot leaves (stems removed)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (see below)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
To toast the nuts
Toasting pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, and pumpkin seeds brings out their flavor. Spread the nuts or seeds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, place in a preheated 350-degree oven and toast until fragrant and lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the nut or seed.
To make the pesto
The word “pesto” comes from the Italian verb pestare, which means to crush or mash. Staying true to tradition, this recipe calls for using a mortar and pestle to crush and mash the ingredients.
Begin by combining the garlic and sea salt in the mortar, and work the garlic into a paste with the pestle.
Next add the carrot leaves, crushing the leaves against the side of the mortar until they are reduced to little bits before adding the next handful. No need to bash the leaves, simply work the pestle in a circular motion, grinding the leaves down.
Once all the carrot leaves have been crushed and the green juice has stained the side of the mortar, it’s time to add the pine nuts. Smash individual nuts under the pestle until they yield into a paste. Next, drizzle in the olive oil, working it in with a wooden spoon
Recipe adapted from Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More Than 225 Recipes by Diane Morgan.