Happy April! It’s time to celebrate spring’s arrival with a beloved dish: pesto. Specifically, vegan pesto made with carrot tops. Because, yes—you can totally throw carrot greens into your pesto. It’s a great way to reduce food waste, slightly elevate the pesto’s flavor, and pack in a few extra nutrients. Win-win. Sweet, salty, and savory, these sweet potato fries with carrot top pesto (vegan) are truly delightful. There’s no need to compost your carrot greens. Use them in this delicious and simple recipe. Gluten-free and plant-based, these fries can be served as a hearty side dish, an afternoon snack, or the focal point of a veggie-centric dinner.
Are carrot tops edible?
Absolutely. Ideally organic, you can eat carrot top greens! The leafy greens that grow on top of carrots are often overlooked, but they are actually quite nutritious and flavorful. Carrot tops are rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, and calcium. They also contain antioxidants and chlorophyll, which can support the body’s natural detox pathways. The tops can be used in a variety of dishes, such as salads, soups, smoothies, and in this pesto. Just be sure to wash them thoroughly before eating to remove any dirt or debris. Next time you buy carrots, don’t throw away those greens—try incorporating them into your meals.
Are carrot top greens healthy?
Carrot top greens are an excellent source of dietary fiber. Fiber is an important nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining digestive health and preventing chronic diseases. In fact, just one cup of carrot top greens provides about two grams of fiber, which is about 8% of the daily recommended intake for adults. Fiber helps to promote regular bowel movements, prevent constipation, and lower cholesterol levels. It also helps to regulate blood sugar levels and promotes feelings of fullness. Not to mention that carrots are fantastic for hormone balance (specifically, metabolizing estrogen). If you’re looking for a delicious way to boost your fiber intake, include carrot top greens in your diet!
What can you make with carrot tops?
A popular root vegetable, carrots are often enjoyed for their sweet and crunchy texture. However, many people don’t realize that the leafy green tops of carrots are also edible and packed with nutrients. Versatile and nutritious, they can be used in a variety of dishes. Don’t let them go to waste! Get creative and experiment with different ways to incorporate them into your cooking. Here are a few ways to use carrot top greens in your cooking:
Traditional pesto: Carrot top pesto is a tasty and unique alternative to traditional basil pesto. Simply blend together carrot tops, garlic, nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Otherwise, make my vegan option (recipe, below!). Serve over pasta, spread it on sandwiches, or use it as a dip.
Salads: Carrot top greens add a fresh and peppery flavor to salads. Toss them with other greens, such as spinach or arugula, along with your favorite vegetables and a tangy dressing.
Soups: Add carrot top greens to your favorite soup recipe for an extra boost of flavor and nutrition. They pair particularly well with vegetable soups and purees.
Smoothies: Carrot top greens can be blended into smoothies for a nutrient-packed drink. Combine them with your favorite fruits and a liquid base, such as almond milk or coconut water, for a refreshing and healthy snack.
Chips: Turn carrot top greens into crispy, crunchy chips by baking them in the oven. Toss them with olive oil and salt before baking at 350°F for 10-15 minutes, or until crispy.
Stir-fries: Add carrot top greens to stir-fries for a pop of color and flavor. They pair well with other Asian-inspired flavors, such as soy sauce, ginger, and garlic.
Grilled vegetables: Wrap carrot top greens around vegetables, such as asparagus or zucchini, before grilling for a unique and flavorful side dish.
Ingredients in vegan carrot top pesto
Drizzled over hot-out-the-oven sweet potato fries, this carrot top pesto comes together in no time and requires a few simple ingredients.
Traditional pesto alla Genovese contains basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts and a hard cheese (like parm or pecorino). This recipe is a spin-off of classic Italian pesto, but there’s plenty of pesto.
Carrot top greens
The star of the show—save your carrot top greens and toss them into this delicious vegan pesto.
Adding chopped raw, garlic adds intense flavor and a variety of health benefits to this pesto (supports the immune system, healthy cholesterol levels, and more).
If you haven’t had nutritional yeast, it’s a delicious, vitamin-packed seasoning! It has a slightly nutty and cheesy flavor, making it a great vegan substitute for cheese.
Although classic pesto calls for pine nuts, this recipe uses pumpkin seeds. They’re more economical and packed with zinc and magnesium. These are the best organic pumpkin seeds (to extend their shelf-life, store them in the freezer).
Extra-virgin olive oil
When it comes to making pesto, extra-virgin olive oil is best. Because pesto is such a strong sauce, anything you add to reduce its pungency will steer it towards a sweeter, rounder flavor. That includes selecting a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil.
Use both lemon juice and lemon zest for acidity and a burst of freshness.
Sea salt and Black Pepper
No pesto is complete without a generous pinch of both sea salt and black pepper.
How to make vegan carrot top pesto
To begin, preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Cut sweet potato into wedges, place on baking sheet, and spray with avocado oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and garlic powder. Bake for 30-35 minutes (or until the sweet potatoes are browned). Meanwhile, add all pesto ingredients to your food processor. Process until well-combined. Let sit on the counter. Remove fries from the oven, let cool for 5-7 minutes, then generously spoon pesto across the sweet potatoes.
Store any remaining pesto in an air-tight container in the fridge. In tupperware, this pesto will stay fresh in the fridge for up to one week. Drizzle the remaining pesto with a bit more olive oil to keep the pesto green).
Roasted Sweet Potato Fries With Carrot Top Pesto
Sweet Potato Fries
- 1 large sweet potato
- Avocado oil spray
- 1/2-1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Vegan Carrot Top Pesto
- 1 cup loosely packed basil
- 1 cup 1 cup carrot tops (the greens from approx. 4-5 carrots)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Cut sweet potato into wedges, place on baking sheet, and drizzle with avocado oil spray and seasonings. Bake for 30-35 minutes (or until the sweet potatoes are browned).
- While the sweet potatoes are baking, add all pesto ingredients to your food processor. Process until well-combined. Let sit on the counter.
- Remove fries from the oven, let cool for 5-7 minutes, then generously spoon pesto across the sweet potatoes.