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Carrot Tops 3 Ways: Our New Favourite Green!

Knowing how much time, energy and resources goes into growing high quality, fresh produce, we strive to waste as little as possible, and more often than not,  something delicious is lurking among the pieces we'd typically consider waste.

Take a carrot top, for example! A bit bitter upon first bite, a few more chews and a bright, citrusy, vitamin-rich (6x more Vitamin C than the root, plus a significant share of Vitamin A!) begins to take shape. From here, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination. We blend them into Pistou, or "French Pesto" (Vegan!!), top roasted carrots with a gremolata of their own greens, and, my personal favourite: sautee them until crispy for a rich, crunchy 'salad' that you truly have to taste to understand. 


1. Carrot Top Pistou

Pistou is a lighter and naturally vegan version of traditional Genovese pesto. It comes from Provence,  France rather than Genoa, Italy and it doesn’t have the nuts and cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch carrot tops
  • 2 cloves garlic (or 4 garlic scapes)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ lemon, zest and juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Place all the ingredients (except for 2 tbsp of the olive oil) in a blender or food processor.  Blend on a low setting until you have desired consistency.
  2. Add one of the reserved tbsp of olive oil and blend briefly.  Add the last one and briefly blend again.  
  3. Keep in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for a few days.  To keep fresher longer (up to 1 month), cover the top with olive oil before sealing.

How to Use Carrot Top Pistou:

  • Dress pasta in the same way as pesto. Just scatter a few toasted nuts over the top. Pine nuts are particularly good for this, as are walnuts. If you’re not vegan, some crumbled feta cheese is good instead of, or even as well as, the nuts. Alternatively, top with fried mushrooms.
  • Spread on wraps, bread or toast as a base layer for whatever you’re putting on top.
  • Mix into roast vegetables as soon as they come out of the oven.
  • Spoon over steamed or boiled vegetables when serving.
  • Add a spoonful or two to any soup as you’re serving it.
  • Use as a salad dressing (You might want to add a little more oil and lemon juice for this.)

 

2. Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Gremolata

The chopped carrot greens turn into a zesty and bright topping for sweet roasted carrots and shallots.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches small carrots with tops, scrubbed and tops removed
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp curry powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp red chilli flakes

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425.  On a baking sheet, toss the carrots and shallots with olive oil, curry powder, salt and pepper. 
  2. Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender and golden.
  3. Transfer the carrots and shallots to a serving platter.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, red chili flakes, salt and pepper.
  5. Finely chop the carrot tops until you have about ½ cup and add to the bowl.  Mix well to combine.
  6. Sprinkle the gremolata over the carrots and shallots and serve.

 

3. Crispy Sauteed Carrot Greens "Salad"

This rich, crisp "salad" would sit beautifully next to a tender piece of poached or roasted fish. The texture alone, when crisped properly, is worth trying these out. Once cooked, the bitterness of the green transforms into a rich minerality and the result is somewhere between a salad of kale chip and wakame.

Ingredients:

  •  4 cups carrot greens, stiff stems removed
  •  4 garlic cloves, minced
  •  3 tablespoons olive oil
  •  Pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste
  •  Pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. In a medium pan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add minced garlic and cook until it begins to brown and become fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Next add the red pepper and cook about 20-30 seconds more, or until the pepper begins to release its color into the oil (do not overcook or the pepper will burn). 
  2. Add the carrot greens and stir constantly until they are covered in oil and completely wilted and cooked down, about 2-3 minutes. Remove to a plate and serve immediately.