carrot top pesto

2/3 cup    |   
Prep Time:
10 minutes

print this page
carrot top pesto

I get excited by things like carrots so fresh that the dirt still clings to them. I mean, what self-respecting, farmers’ market–going, vegetable-loving cook could resist that? Not me. But the other thing that drew me to this particular bunch was the bright green tops. One look at them and I knew I could make a recipe that’s been on my list: Carrot Top Pesto. The recipe comes from my friend Diane Morgan’s book Roots: The Definitive Compendium with more than 225 Recipes, which was just nominated for a James Beard Award. Does she deserve it! This book is fascinating (and beautiful). It covers the root vegetables you’d expect, like rutabaga, radishes, celery root, and potatoes, but then she teaches you all about fresh turmeric, burdock root, galangal, Jerusalem artichokes, and more. My favorite chapter is on fresh horseradish. I attended an event where Diane was signing copies (she generously gave me one) and serving sautéed horseradish gnocchi from the book, which were phenomenal. Those take a bit of work, but the carrot top pesto is a cinch. I zipped up a batch for lunch today. Diane suggests serving it with goat cheese crostini, but I put it right back on the carrots after roasting them. That’s the kind of nose-to-tail vegetable eating I endorse.


1 cup lightly packed carrot leaves (stems removed)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (see note)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


In a food processor, combine the carrot leaves, oil, garlic, and salt and process until finely minced. Add the pine nuts and pulse until finely chopped. Add the Parmesan and pulse just until combined (the pesto should have a little texture to it). Taste and adjust the seasoning. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

note: to toast the pine nuts, spread them in a pie plate and bake in a 375° oven until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.