Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Don't Toss Those Tops!

For years I've been ripping off the tops of bunches of carrots and tossing them in the compost. When a checker at the store would ask if I'd like the frilly greens removed, I'd say, "Why, yes, thanks!"

Then a couple of months ago I stumbled across a reference to carrot greens in cookbook author Diane Morgan's "Roots," an encyclopedic tour of those edibles that grow beneath the soil. In it she describes that she, too, was a carrot top tosser until she found out they were edible, and I've since had several conversations with other former carrot top naïfs who now use the frilly, slightly carrot-y tasting tips in salads, sauces and sautés.

So now not only am I not wasting a perfectly edible source of greens, I have yet another delicious, vitamin-rich addition to my repertoire. Who knew?

Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto

My friend Hank Shaw, a forager and hunter of some reknown, loves to serve the game animals he hunts with the food that they may forage in the wild. Serving the carrots with their tops, while not quite the same thing, gives me a similar thrill.

1 bunch carrots with greens
1-2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. pine nuts (toasted in a dry skillet, if desired)
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°.

Remove greens from carrots, leaving 1-2" of stems attached. (I try to get long, slender carrots for roasting, but if the carrots are thicker, halve them lengthwise or chop into 1/2" coins.) Brush with olive oil and arrange on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Roast in oven for 30-40 min. until fork-tender.

For the pesto, remove leaves from carrot stems as you would with parsley or cilantro. Put the leaves in a blender and add garlic, pine nuts and salt. Add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and purée, drizzling in remainder of olive oil, plus more if needed, to make a finely textured sauce.

Place roasted carrots on platter and drizzle with pesto, or serve carrots plated with drizzle of pesto. I usually put the remainder in a bowl on the table for pesto addicts to serve themselves.


Autism United said...

Learn something new every single day. Thanks for the carrot pesto recipe, for sure will be trying and not wasting those carrot tops.

Kathleen Bauer said...

I found myself at the store picking up a bunch and looking for the greenest tops…of course, it means the carrots are fresher, too!