Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto
I have been looking for a recipe that uses the whole carrot, root to tip, for a while now and usually, it’s a bust. I don’t care how healthy they are, I don’t like pureed carrot green smoothies. Maybe I just haven’t found the right recipe, who knows, but what I do know is that if I don’t love what I’m eating, I’m not going to make it again.
I stumbled across a carrot top pesto recipe a few years ago in an April Bloomfield (chef crush!) cookbook, and I tried to throw together a rendition from memory. It turned out really delicious and as an added bonus, used almost all the carrot just like I was hoping. This dish is great as a light spring or summer salad meal, a side dish to some grilled meats, or as a different breakfast option with some added fried eggs and maybe some sour cream and chilies.
3 to 4 Cups Carrot tops (the tender green ends)
1/2 Cup Walnuts
Big Pinch of Basil Leaves
1 Garlic Clove, sliced
1/4 Cup Shaved Pecorino or Parmesan
about 1/3 to 1/2 Cup of Olive Oil
Salt, to taste
20 or so Smaller Tender Carrots
2 to 4 Tbsp Canola Oil
Splash Apple Cider Vinegar
Maldon Salt, to finish
Small Basil Leaves
Handful of Bococcini
Splash of good quality Olive Oil
To make the pesto, wash the greens of the carrots, gently pat dry, and pick the nice tender end frills. Put these in your food processor along with the basil, garlic, walnuts and cheese. Pulse a few times to get the mixture started. You don’t want to keep blitzing for a long time or you will loose the nice green color of the vegetables and herbs and end up with a grey brown mush instead.
When they are roughly chopped and combined, run your processor and stream in your oil. Add as much as you want to get the consistency you enjoy most. Be careful not to over-process or the olive oil might get bitter. Season to taste with salt and refrigerate until needed. This can be used on so many different things; as a salad dressing, tossed into pasta, spread on toast and topped with an egg, on grilled meats, really just add it anywhere for a nice pop of color and flavour!
Preheat your oven to 350F. Thoroughly wash the carrots and trim the ends leaving just a bit of the green top on, and slice any large ones lengthwise. Heat a large pan over high heat and add your oil. Carefully tip your carrots into the pan and sear hard on a few sides for about 5 minutes or so. You want some nice dark char for that roasty flavour.
Season with salt, toss, and put the pan in the oven to finish roasting through, another 10 minutes or so. You want them to still have a bit of bite to them in the end.
To finish, tear up the bococcini into nice, bite sized pieces, and place your warm carrots on a platter. Top with the cheese, the basil, the pesto, the olive oil, and a pinch of maldon sea salt and enjoy!