I love buying fresh bunches of carrots from the farmers market, but sometimes it’s tough figuring out what to do with all those greens. Some vendors will offer to remove them for you before you take your bunch of carrots home (I really can’t believe this is a thing), but don’t let them! This carrot green pesto makes an absolutely wonderful substitute for its more traditional cousin, basil pesto.
Oh basil, how I love you so (and other fresh herbs)
These days, I don’t buy a ton of fresh herbs at one time. I find it’s more manageable to buy one bunch of herbs at a time and weave that herb into meals throughout the week. It sparks creativity in my cooking and ultimately makes for less food waste because there are less forgotten herbs at the end of the week. And I almost never buy bulk amounts of basil.
Unless the farmers market is having a sale or something – then, jackpot!
Basil pesto is great if you’ve got a plethora of it because a lot of basil leaves makes a small amount of pesto. If you grow it yourself, for example, you might be looking for good ways to use up a large amount. One day I’ll grow my own, but right now, city life and no yard and the tiniest patio you’ve ever seen doesn’t really help my gardening goals.
Not to mention my black thumb. 🤷🏼♀️
When it IS basil season, I try to “process” this coveted ingredient as minimally as possible. Because it’s basil, and it’s amazing. And because we are trying to be more mindful by eating seasonally, we try to savor that “basil-ness” as much as possible, while it’s here and in season. All it takes to brighten a dish with basil is a couple leaves here and there, plucked from the stem, roughly torn, and folded into fresh pasta or mixed into a salad.
When I bring home basil, there’s usually no extra to make pesto.
But carrot greens? Yep, I’ve got plenty of those most weeks.
Save those carrot greens and make pesto!
If you do have fresh herbs on hand, you can add them to this carrot green pesto to bump up the flavor, but it’s not 100% necessary. In this version, I’ve used a handful of fresh parsley that I needed to use up.
If you don’t have extra fresh herbs on hand, increase the lemon juice and other seasonings until you arrive at a flavor you’re happy with.
So much of cooking is trial and error, but it gets easier the more you do it. There are certain flavor combinations you will learn work, and others to stay away from. Regardless of what you’re making, taste-testing your dish at every step of the way is imperative to getting the result you’re looking for.
That’s a major reason why I love cooking more than baking. When you’re cooking and taste-testing as you go, you can adjust flavors and seasonings if something’s not tasting quite right.
This is also a great case for cooking at home, of course, because you can tailor your dishes to your unique tastes.
Ways to use carrot green pesto (or any pesto, really)
This carrot green pesto can be used as you would any other pesto. Here are some of our favorite ways to use this pesto:
Use the “whole beast” and roast up those fresh carrots. Top with carrot green pesto and you’ve got a wonderful side dish.
Smear on a grilled cheese sandwich (thinly sliced fresh sourdough + sharp cheddar + pesto = 👍🏼)
Season your hummus with a swirl of pesto! Because why not?
Add pesto as a flavor-boosted topping to finish off a vegetable soup.
Toss a large amount of pesto with freshly cooked pasta. This works great if you’re also tossing in roasted veggies into the pasta dish.
Dollop some pesto on top of a rice and roasted veggie bowl.
Let me know if you’ve tried this recipe. Also, what are your favorite ways to use pesto?