Zero Waste Vegan Carrot Top Pesto
Are you looking for new ways to enjoy those classic dishes? Or would like to stretch your budget making more with less using zero waste cooking? Carrot greens a.k.a. carrot tops are a highly nutrient dense and completely edible part of the carrot plant and it is perfect in a pesto. So before you throw out those tops, why not give this recipe a try? This carrot top pesto will make you look at those greens in a whole new light!
This carrot top pesto is completely vegan, zero waste, and made with some highly nutritious sustainable ingredients. It is tangy, fresh, herbaceous, amazingly cheesy, and very budget-friendly. This carrot top pesto is great for pasta, sauces, salads, pizza, and anything else you fancy pesto in. And like any pesto, it freezes well so you can make it in large batches for quick easy meals when you are low on time or meal prepping.
What are Carrot Tops or Greens?
Zero waste cooking has been a lifesaver this year. It has made me re-evaluate how I look at food and how wasteful I was. It’s amazing how much perfectly good food I used to just throw away.
One great example?
Carrot tops. These often ignored guys are the greens that grow on top of the carrot taproot. Carrot tops tend to be leafy, delicate, fibrous, and bitter in taste by themselves. But if paired with something sweet like basil, they can add complexity and depth to dishes.
Carrot greens contain a significant amount of vitamin A, dietary fiber, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. There is no fat or cholesterol, and these babies have roughly 90 calories per cup of these raw greens. They also contain vitamin K and various phenolic compounds, carotenoids, and other antioxidants. (1)
Tips and Tricks to Make Carrot Top Pesto
Here are a few tips I picked up from working with this pesto recipe that will give you awesome results.
- Use the freshest basil and carrot tops. Naturally, using the freshest basil and carrot greens you can find is a must for achieving the best flavor in pesto. If you have a sunny window or patio, growing your own basil is incredibly easy to do especially for beginners and it will save you a ton of money in the long run. Carrots are a bit of a different story though. You can grow tops from food scraps or if you garden then that is an easy way to get your carrot greens. However, if you can’t grow it yourself, I always recommend a farmer’s market. I have yet to find carrots there that didn’t come with the greens as well. As far as I’m concerned, it’s two things you buy for the price of one. More bang for your buck!
- I recommend using hemp seeds or cashews for this recipe. Personally, I’m a big fan of hemp seeds. They are such an amazing food from a hardy and sustainable plant that can grow practically anywhere. Plus, these guys are great for anyone with a nut allergy. Short of that, cashews work really well in this recipe too.
- Either a high-performance blender or food processor will work. I like to make big batches of pesto in my Vitamix and freeze what I’m not using immediately. But if you don’t have a good blender, a food processor should do the job just as well.
- Basil pesto has a tendency to brown over time when exposed to air. To avoid this, add a thin layer (just enough to completely cover the pesto) of olive oil on top before capping. Otherwise you can freeze it. I just fill up a silicone ice cube tray and pop it in the freezer. Once frozen, pop the cubes out and place them in a silicone bag. You can store pesto in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for about 4 months.
- Place your basil and carrot tops in first. I noticed they tend to blend up better when all the weight from everything else pushes down onto the blades. If using a high-performance blender, use a medium speed setting to get a little texture.
- For carrot tops, use the leaves and tender stems but do not use the thick main stalk. I treat carrot tops like my basil, I pull the leaves from the main stem and loosely pack those until I get a cup’s worth. No need to chop them smaller.
That about covers it! Let’s get to blending!
If you give this recipe a try, I’d love to see your awesome creation! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to hashtag a photo on Instagram #sustainablesauceresses!
Or if you have any questions or feedback, you are always welcome to leave me a comment below. I’d really love to hear from you!
Vegan Carrot Top Pesto
- Blender or Food Processor
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- 2 cups fresh basil loosely packed
- 1 cups carrot greens loosely packed
- 1/2 cups hemp seeds or raw cashews
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp. nurtitional yeast
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. pink himalayan or sea salt
- 1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
- Put the carrot tops and basil in the blender or food processor.
- Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth scraping the sides with a spatula a few times. For a nice texture, leave it a little chunky. It gives that authentic "cheesy" texture.
Did you give this recipe a try?