While it has nearly felt like summer this week in Claremont, we are still missing some major summer staples, including basil and, consequently, fresh pesto. Our seeds have germinated in the greenhouse, and I’m looking forward to transplanting our basil seedlings into the ground soon. But for now, fresh basil more of an aspiration than a reality. Regardless, I have preserved and pesto-ed on! Once I ran out of my frozen pesto stash that I had made from our summer basil abundance, I turned to the what I did have: carrot tops!
While carrot tops have an earthy flavor rather than a fresh, basil-y aroma, they are still a nutrient-rich, leafy vehicle for garlic! Thus, I’ve been tossing my pasta and topping my pizza with carrot top pesto for the past two months. It is a pretty similar and simple process and also gives purpose to a less celebrated and less, in my opinion, delicious part of the carrot plant. So, without further ado, here is the recipe that I (very loosely) follow to make my pesto:
- 2 cups of carrot tops
- ½ cup of pine nuts, walnuts, or cashews
- 2 cloves of garlic (or more!) peeled and chopped coarsely
- ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup of parmesan or nutritional yeast (or more!)
- Juice from half of a lemon
- Salt to taste
- Red pepper flakes to taste
1.Blanche carrot tops (optional but recommended): boil a pot of water. Prepare a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water in it. Once boiling, add the carrot tops (tough stems removed) to the pot. Stir occasionally and cook until bright and tender, about three minutes. Remove from the pot, drain the hot water, and add the tops to the ice bath. Once cooking stops, drain the carrot tops, wring out excess liquid, and spread them on a plate or paper towel to dry for a bit.
2.Add all of the ingredients but the olive oil to a food processor and pulse until a chunky paste forms. Periodically scrape down the sides. Add the olive oil a bit at a time until combined.
3.Once finished, you can use immediately, store it in the fridge for a few days, or store it in the freezer for a few months!
Once you start using your carrot greens, the possibilities are *nearly* endless! You can make carrot top chimichurri, add it to your tabbouleh, or save it to make vegetable stock.
Happy cooking! And check back next week for more updates and lessons from the Farm!