With fresh and bright flavors, this carrot top pesto makes use of the oft-scorned greens from your carrot bunch, complementing them with fresh lemon, garlic, and herbs. Ready in just a few minutes and perfect on pasta, sandwiches, crackers and more.
To blanch the carrot tops: remove thick stem pieces. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water in it. Once boiling, add the carrot tops to the pot. Stir occasionally, cooking for about 3 minutes or until bright green and tender. Immediately remove from the pot, drain the hot water, and add the carrot tops to the ice cube bowl to stop the cooking process.
Drain the carrot tops, wring out excess liquid, and spread them on a plate to dry while you do the remaining recipe prep.
Add all of the ingredients from garlic through walnuts (if using) to the food processor. Blend until a chunky paste forms with small bits of carrot tops. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to stop frequently to scrape down the sides. Add the olive oil a tablespoon at a time until combined. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice if desired.
To use as a pasta sauce, cook your pasta in salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Add the reserved cooking water and carrot top pesto, stir to combine, and cook over low heat until warmed. Serve right away.
Otherwise, once cooled to room temperature, store the pesto in the fridge in an airtight container for several days. The bright green color may fade to a slightly darker green, and this is totally normal.
FREEZING: Throw the mint in to blanch with the carrot tops if you plan to freeze this carrot top pesto (you'll need to retrieve it from the water a little sooner). After doing so, it freezes well.
OTHER NUTS/SEEDS: This carrot top pesto is also fabulous with toasted almonds, pumpkin seeds, or pine nuts.
NUT-FREE: Simply omit the walnuts and add another tablespoon of olive oil if needed. This option is tested and the pictured pesto is actually the nut-free version.
OTHER HERBS: You can use basil or another 'fruity' herb instead of the mint. Or, omit the additional herbs and add slightly more garlic and lemon zest.
CHEEZE: Yes, traditional pesto often has parmesan cheese in it, but this carrot top version really shines without it. However, if you are vegan and craving a cheesy flavor, add a tablespoon or two of nutritional yeast to taste (this will also up the protein content).