Carrot Top Pesto

Carrot Top Pesto | vegetarian recipes | sauce recipes |

Summer has come to Florida. The afternoon rains that we expect and sorely need have started to reappear after a drought-like spring. The humidity is climbing (today it was 70%) and so is the heat: Robby and I chose to drive across the street for brunch on Memorial Day because it was 91F at noon. In case you’re wondering, that’s a heat index in the high 90s.

So I’m working on building my repertoire of Summer recipes, the sort that are light and healthy and don’t make you feel warmer just by eating them. Ones that require less time over a hot stove are also a bonus.

I’m in the process of revamping my Citrus Maple Carrots recipe, which calls for–if you can find them–smaller carrots by the bunch, which often come with attached leaves. It turns out that carrot greens are edible! You can eat them as they are, but they’re a little bit bitter, so most people (including me) aren’t into that. But they do make a pretty great pesto.

If that sounds odd, it’s probably because you’re familiar with classic pesto: basil, garlic, walnuts, olive oil. That’s it. I’ve done that on the blog before, and it’s amazing. But why stop there?

It turns out that pesto can be made with almost anything green–and a few things that aren’t green. And the traditional walnuts can be swapped for pine nuts, pistachios, pepitas (pumpkin seeds). You name it, it’s probably possible. Here’s a few examples:

(Approximately) A Million Pestos

  • With greens: Arugula, spinach, garlic scapes, kale
  • With herbs: Basil, chives, fennel
  • With non-greens: Sundried tomato, olive, artichoke, roasted garlic
  • Non-Italian: Chimichurri, Hawaiian, Thai, West African

(Zillions of recipes here and here!)

Besides that, pesto is easy. I made mine in a food processor, but you can make it by hand in ten minutes (less, if you’re a faster prepper than I). I like the nuttiness of pine nuts, toasted for a couple of minutes on the stovetop. And don’t skip the lemon! It may sound unnecessary, but the slightest splash of acid ties everything together.

(Delicious) Ways to Eat Pesto

  • Salad dressing
  • Put inside grilled cheese with gouda or mozzarella
  • Top bruschetta
  • Bake inside bread (yes, INSIDE)
  • Use on pizza in place of tomato sauce
  • Spread on sandwiches or quesadillas
  • Stir into mac ‘n’ cheese
  • Mix into dips
  • Mix into meatball or burger meat

(If that’s not enough for you, try these 50 recipes!)

Recipe adapted from Love & Lemons.


Carrot Top Pesto

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: sauce
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • 1/3 toasted pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup roughly chopped carrot tops
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly shredded Pecorino Romano or Parmesan
  • Optional: Additional 1/4 cup olive oil, red pepper flakes, capers
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a food processor, pulse together pine nuts, garlic, carrot greens, basil, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup olive oil to your desired consistency.
  2. Stir in cheese, optional pepper flakes and capers, and additional olive oil.
  3. Serve over bruschetta, pasta, or just eat with a spoon!

The Burroughs

Katie and Robby Burroughs, writers, photographers, and curators of Bear and Bug Eats.

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