What To Do With Carrot Greens: 10 Inspiring Ideas
This may come as a surprise, but those lanky Bugs Bunny-like green tops on your carrots are edible, and not only are they edible, but they are super delicious and loaded with nutrients! Carrot greens have a sweet earthy flavor that is reminiscent of, well, carrots! With a fresh parsley finish.
It is important to note that there is a nasty rumor that carrot greens are poisonous, and this is simply not true. Carrot greens do contain alkaloids, as do all vegetables in the nightshade family: eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes, but they are perfectly safe and nutritious to eat. What can you do with carrot greens now that you know they are edible? Well here are 10 inspiring ideas to get you started:
Cashew Carrot Top Pesto // Pesto is a recurring theme in the carrot green recipe world, and for good reason! This cheesy cashew carrot top version from Abra’s Kitchen is a delicious topping for perfectly roasted carrots.
Carrot Green Chimichurri // Carrot greens are transformed into a gorgeous garlic, herb and vinegar dip in this recipe from Love and Lemons. I would pour this chimichurri over just about anything.
Curried Carrot Fritters // This healthy fritter recipe from A Virtual Vegan combines shredded carrots, curry spices, and carrot tops. Best of all, they are baked — not fried!
Carrot Top Pesto // This carrot top pesto from Snacking in Sneakers truly let’s carrot tops shine. Carrot greens are simply blended with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. You could toss this pesto with pasta for a real carrot top treat.
Vegetarian Roasted Vegetable Broth // A great way to use up vegetable scraps is to make a big pot of vegetable broth! Life Currents adds carrot greens to her nutrient dense vegetable broth. Brilliant!
Carrot Top Tabouli Salad // Perfectly cooked bulgur wheat combined with crunchy cucumbers, fresh tomatoes and scallion, and lots of parsley, mint, and of course, carrot tops! Dressed simply with olive and lemon juice. A zesty fresh summer salad from Abra’s Kitchen.
Garlicky (Lahsuni) Moong-Masoor Daal with Carrot Greens // This garlicky daal from Jagruti’s Cooking Odyssey is packed with healthy carrot greens.
Carrot Top Pesto with Vegetable Noodles // Carrot greens are blended with walnuts, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, basil, and vegan Parmesan cheese, finished with a squeeze of lemon and then tossed together with sweet potato, carrot, and zucchini noodles. This is a true vegetable celebration from Euphoric Vegan.
Garden Veggie Burgers // Carrot greens, dill, and parsley are the stars of this garden veggie burger from Strength and Sunshine.
Carrot Top Mint Pesto // Carrot greens pair perfectly with refreshing mint. This mint carrot top pesto from Tasting Page would be delicious with grilled summer vegetables.
This carrot top pesto has a bright and fresh spring flavor and is great anywhere ordinary pesto is used. Use the whole carrot and create something amazing!
You know I’m no stranger to making the most of my greens (and making them into pesto). If you find some mysterious* greens at the market or in your fridge, you can almost always turn them into some sort of delicious pesto by blanching them, drying them, and then preparing them similarly to classic pesto by mixing them with an herb, a nut or seed, citrus, and a little bit of oil.
*Confirmed edible, please.
Carrot tops are totally edible themselves, and taste faintly of carrot while also having some bitter notes and a slight natural saltiness. For pesto-fying them we remove the thick stems (or finely chop them before adding them to the food processor) and combine them with some other flavor notes to balance them out. The result is a really unique pesto that highlights carrot tops… but not too much. 😉 No cheese needed or missed, this recipe is totally plant-based and vegan and more delicious for it.
The origin of my particular carrot top pesto recipe was the same friend who helped me create my black garlic vinaigrette. We were creating a whole Moroccan-inspired feast including glowing Moroccan vegetable stew, salad with vinaigrette, and crostini with almond ricotta and carrot top pesto. I’m sure there was more, but I can’t remember, probably because the feast also included copious amounts of wine.
As such, this carrot top pesto evolved to have some vaguely Moroccan-inspired flavors. Along with the carrot tops themselves I like to include some fresh mint and a few green scallion pieces. Originally the pesto used toasted almonds. I then switched it to walnuts when almonds became the victim of an elimination diet in our household. The carrot top pesto reached its nut-free form when I made it recently and forgot about the walnuts altogether. Turns out it’s still fantastic anyway with an extra glug of EVOO.
Other carrot top pesto recipes on the internet don’t seem to be blanching their carrot tops. I think it’s a worthwhile step, though. You can pack in more of them and temper their flavor; you can use more of the stem if it’s been blanched; and the pesto is better prepared for freezing. If you do choose to make-n-freeze this, you should also blanch the mint so that it doesn’t tarnish in the freezer. Otherwise, you’re good to go.
I urge you to try my crostini serving recommendation above; this carrot top pesto is also great on pasta, spread in lasagna, stirred with vegan cream cheese, inside a sandwich, on roasted vegetables (like perhaps…. carrots?) and beyond! (In the photo above, I have served it with rice crackers and Treeline cashew cheese). Enjoy!
4.91 from 10 votes
Carrot Top Pesto
With fresh and bright flavors, this carrot top pesto makes use of the oft-scorned greens from your carrot bunch, complementing them with fresh lemon, garlic, and herbs. Ready in just a few minutes and perfect on pasta, sandwiches, crackers and more.
Course condiments, sauces, spreads Cuisine dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, paleo, refined sugar-free, soy-free, vegan Keyword carrot greens pesto, carrot top pesto Prep Time 10 minutes Cook Time 10 minutes Total Time 20 minutes Total Yield 1 cups Calories Per Serving 107 kcal Author Yup, it’s Vegan
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- 2 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 of a lemon)
- 1 tsp fresh lemon zest (about 1/2 of a lemon)
- carrot tops from 1 large or 2 smaller bunches of carrots (yields 1 cup blanched)
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
- 4 green onions fresh green parts only
- 1/2 cup raw walnuts (optional)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
To blanch the carrot tops: remove thick stem pieces. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water in it. Once boiling, add the carrot tops to the pot. Stir occasionally, cooking for about 3 minutes or until bright green and tender. Immediately remove from the pot, drain the hot water, and add the carrot tops to the ice cube bowl to stop the cooking process.
Drain the carrot tops, wring out excess liquid, and spread them on a plate to dry while you do the remaining recipe prep.
Add all of the ingredients from garlic through walnuts (if using) to the food processor. Blend until a chunky paste forms with small bits of carrot tops. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to stop frequently to scrape down the sides. Add the olive oil a tablespoon at a time until combined. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice if desired.
To use as a pasta sauce, cook your pasta in salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Add the reserved cooking water and carrot top pesto, stir to combine, and cook over low heat until warmed. Serve right away.
Otherwise, once cooled to room temperature, store the pesto in the fridge in an airtight container for several days. The bright green color may fade to a slightly darker green, and this is totally normal.
FREEZING: Throw the mint in to blanch with the carrot tops if you plan to freeze this carrot top pesto (you’ll need to retrieve it from the water a little sooner). After doing so, it freezes well.
OTHER NUTS/SEEDS: This carrot top pesto is also fabulous with toasted almonds, pumpkin seeds, or pine nuts.
NUT-FREE: Simply omit the walnuts and add another tablespoon of olive oil if needed. This option is tested and the pictured pesto is actually the nut-free version.
OTHER HERBS: You can use basil or another ‘fruity’ herb instead of the mint. Or, omit the additional herbs and add slightly more garlic and lemon zest.
CHEEZE: Yes, traditional pesto often has parmesan cheese in it, but this carrot top version really shines without it. However, if you are vegan and craving a cheesy flavor, add a tablespoon or two of nutritional yeast to taste (this will also up the protein content).
Nutrition Facts Carrot Top Pesto Amount Per Serving (3 tablespoons) Calories 107 Calories from Fat 90 % Daily Value* Fat 10g15% Saturated Fat 1g6% Polyunsaturated Fat 4g Monounsaturated Fat 4g Carbohydrates 2g1% Fiber 1g4% Sugar 1g1% Protein 1g2% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
3 Ways to use Carrot tops
Dec 11, 2017
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a third of all foods is spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people. This represents 1.3 billion tonnes of food wasted per year. The most disappointing part, in Canada, almost half of that waste happens right in our own homes: 47% are wasted when we throw food out in the garbage. Every Canadian throws out about $400.00 of food every year, and the category wasted the most is fruits and vegetables.
There are lots of ways to minimize food waste, one of those is to use as much of what we purchase as possible. We are currently throwing out a lot of parts of the food item that’s completely edible. If we use them entirely we can reduce our food waste and save money.
An example; carrot tops are not only good for rabbits or for your compost! They’re completely edible and are delicious if you use them properly. Here are three easy ways to get started.
- Make homemade pesto
Traditionally made with basil, pesto can also be made with vegetable leaves, like your carrot tops. Pesto is easy to make and adds itself easily to your meals! You can serve the pesto on pasta, use it to marinade chicken or even spread on your sandwiches.
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
- Carrot tops from 5 carrots, roughly chopped (approx. 2 cups)
- 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
- The juice from ½ lemon
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup olive oil
- Chop up the nuts and roast them in the oven at 375F for a few minutes. Set aside
- Add carrot tops, garlic, lemon juice, basil, parmesan cheese and roasted nuts to your food processor. Add your salt and pepper. Blend until you have a puree.
- While you are still blending, add your olive oil slowly. Scrape the sides down with a spatula and keep blending until you get your desired consistency.
Your pesto will last about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. To make your pesto last longer, try freezing individual portions in a freezer try and pop them out when you need them. Since pesto will brown when exposed add a thin layer of olive oil to the surface to prevent oxidation.
- Replace your basil
Did you know that basil is in the same family as carrots? This means that your carrot top can easily replace basil in recipes. For example, you can add them to your favourite soup, or replace the basil in this easy falafel recipe.
You can also use them to make this creative and delicious carrot salad.
- Add them to your smoothie
Have you been on trend with green smoothies? The next time you make your smoothie, try replacing kale or spinach with your carrot tops for a nutritious options that reduces your food waste. Get inspired with this recipe and replace all or part of the spinach leaves with your carrot tops, or another green you’ve got on hand.
Have these recipes inspired you to save those carrot tops? Do you have any food waste tips you can share with us?
Written by Marie-Ève Caplette, Registered Dietitian and Half Your Plate On Campus Ambassador
Don’t Toss those Carrot Tops
Easter is just around the corner, and glazed carrots are always part of my holiday dinner. This year, I’m growing carrots in my garden from seed, so I was lucky enough to have a good batch of small but tasty ones to harvest this week. Of course, carrots come with big bushy tops. I used to discard the tops in the compost until my friend Nat and a former colleague at The Chopping Block (who now happens to be a farmer in Kansas) went on a rant about people throwing out carrot tops. It made me think twice about wasting those beautiful bright-green tops.
Carrot tops are herbal, earthy greens that have a slight taste of carrots. I want to be clear that carrot tops are NOT poisonous. There seems to be a misconception that they are but in fact, they are very edible and loaded with vitamins and minerals. They are slightly bitter (especially the stems), but that can be resolved with a little blanching if you want to include them in a salad or serve sautéed as a side dish. That’s not even necessary if you just want to make pesto from the tops.
One thing you will want to do when bringing home carrots from the market is to separate the greens from the carrots. That’s because the tops will continue to draw moisture away from the vegetables as they sit in your fridge. Just remove the tops from the vegetables and store them separately. The tops won’t last very long so plan to use them as soon as possible. Wrap a damp paper towel around them and store in a plastic bag for a day or so.
Making carrot top pesto is exactly the same process and technique of making pesto with basil or any other green. This pesto is zingy and tasty and goes great on anything you would normally put pesto on, such as pasta, zoodles, sandwiches, pizza and more. The best part is: it’s totally free since you would have bought (or grown) the carrots anyway. Plus, you still have the carrots to enjoy as well. Win win! Freeze any leftover pesto or keep in a jar in the fridge for up to a week. The olive oil will solidify, so bring to room temperature before using.
Makes about 1 cup
3 Tablespoons nuts (I used sunflower seeds but pine nuts, pecans, pepitas would all work well.)
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups carrot tops (from 4-5 carrots, roughly chopped)
1/2 cup packed fresh herbs (I used a combination of basil, mint and oregano from the garden but use whatever you have on hand.)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Lemon juice, freshly squeezed to taste
Red chili flakes, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Turn the food processor on and drop the garlic and nuts into it while it is running to create a rough paste. Turn off and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the cheese and pulse until combined.
2. Add carrot tops and fresh herbs, and pulse until everything is in small pieces and creates an even thicker, rougher paste. You may need to stop and scrape the sides of the bowl a few times in order to get everything to chop evenly.
3. Drizzle the olive oil into the food processor as it runs. If the pesto is too thick, add additional olive oil to achieve desired consistency, a little at a time. I like my pesto to be spreadable, so I add oil until I get there.
4. Season to taste with fresh lemon juice, red chili flakes and salt and pepper.
Pesto is just one idea for using up carrot tops. They also work well in chimichurri sauce, soups and salads.
I turned this pesto into a sauce for zucchini noodles I made with my OXO hand-held spiralizer I purchased at The Chopping Block. It’s great for small jobs like this.
I always let the zoodles drain in a colander over the sink if I have enough time so that the excess moisture is removed from the zucchini.
I sauteed some Swiss chard (also from the garden) in olive oil for an extra veggie boost to this dish.
I removed the Swiss chard from the pan, seasoned with salt and pepper and set aside. I added more oil to the pan and sauteed the zoodles for a few minutes.
I added about a half of a cup of the pesto to the pan and mixed well.
Add the Swiss chard back to the pan and taste for seasoning. Plate with a little grated Parmesan cheese, and enjoy. I especially did knowing that I grew most of the ingredients in this dish myself!
Our class calendars are chock full of spring menus right now that will inspire you to take advantage of all of the amazing produce soon to hit markets including carrots, ramps, fiddlehead ferns, rhubarb and asparagus. Here are some of my favorites:
- Pasta Workshop: Spring Menu
- Seafood 101: Spring Menu
- Wine and Dine: Spring Menu
- Spring Forward: Let’s Brunch
- Know Your Gnocchi: Spring Menu
- Singles in Spring
- Date Night: Spring Dinner Party
Photo via .com
You see them in knee-high piles after the twice-weekly farmers’ market in my neighborhood; the verdant remains of the day’s carrot sales. The long, lanky tops, their shiny green leaves vaguely reminiscent of Italian parsley, are mostly overlooked by home cooks and professional chefs alike. This is probably due to the unrelenting rumor about the leaves being poisonous (due to their resemblance of the extremely toxic plant Queen Anne’s Lace).
While it’s true that carrot leaves do contain alkaloids and nitrates—which some people can be sensitive to in the same way that others are sensitive to potatoes, eggplants, and other nightshade plants—they aren’t toxic unless you eat them by the bushel. They are, however, versatile and downright tasty, depending on how you prepare them.
You can use carrot greens in the same way you’d use parsley, either as a garnish, or minor player in salads, or as the no-holds-barred star of the culinary show. From carrot-top pesto to carrot-greens soup, the possibilities are vast and varied, and come with a nutritional bonus: They’re packed with potassium, chlorophyll, and other nutrients with health-supporting benefits. This simple salad marries carrot greens with the humble chickpea and a dash of cumin to unite the flavors and textures. Try bringing a bowlful to your next potluck and having your friends guess the ingredients.
Warm Chickpea and Carrot-top Salad
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 medium onion, minced
1 14-oz can chickpeas, drained
1 cup finely chopped carrot greens,
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt, to taste
Heat oil over medium heat. Add cumin, and sauté 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add onion and sauté until golden, about 2 minutes. Add chickpeas and sauté until heated through and any liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add carrot greens. Toss, then transfer to a serving bowl and season with lemon juice and salt before serving.
Homemade Food Scrap Vegetable Broth, an easy homemade soup broth recipe using vegetable food scraps. Repurpose food by stocking up on this simple vegetable stock!
Do you make your own soup stocks? We try to stock up on homemade stocks when we can and love cooking up a big batch of vegetable broth to freeze and pull out for simple seasonal soups all year long.
In our quest to eat a green, sustainable diet, we are always looking for ways to reuse the foods we buy — and one of our favorite ways to do this is to make homemade vegetable broth from food scraps that we would have composted anyway. Those carrot tops and onion peels that end up in the trash are actually great for flavoring broths!
And not only is reusing food scraps a great way to maximized the flavor of the food you buy, you’ll also save money by making your own homemade soup broths AND reduce unnecessary food packaging. Win, win!
Are you ready to learn how to make this so-simple homemade food scrap soup? Let’s do it!
How to make Homemade Food Scrap Vegetable Broth
First, collect your food scraps. I save food scraps throughout the week in a glass food storage container that I keep in the refrigerator if the scraps will be good seasoning for vegetable broth. Most food scraps are great for broth, but some are too bitter or don’t lend themselves well to broths.
Here’s what food scraps you should save and which to pitch:
- Scraps to save: celery stems, carrot stalks, carrot greens, onion peels, garlic roots, apple cores, herbs of any kind, kale stems, lemon and lime rinds, etc.
- Scrap to compost (not worth it in your soup): avocado seeds and skins, banana peels (yuck), stone fruit cores (toxic), rhubarb and tomato leaves (will cause vomiting and digestive issues)
Next, add food scraps to a large soup pot and add water to cover all vegetables. Add a pinch of salt, ground black pepper, and garlic (for flavor, if you don’t already have it as a scrap). Bring the vegetables and water to a boil, then simmer on low for 30 minutes to let the vegetables scraps release their flavor.
Finally, strain the vegetables out of the soup until only the broth remains (compost them!). Use the broth immediately in soups or as a flavored liquid for rice or beans, or let the broth cool and then freeze in freezer-safe food storage containers. When you’re ready to use them from frozen, thaw in the refrigerator one day before using the broth or let thaw on the counter for a few hours.
That’s it! A super simple vegetable broth recipe made from food scraps you would have just composted anyway.
Homemade Food Scrap Vegetable Broth: Tips, tricks, and tools
Making homemade vegetable broth is as easy as it gets, but there are a few tips, tricks, and tools that will help streamline your cooking
- Save your scraps: save your food scraps throughout the week in a food storage container in your refrigerator and make soup broth once a week to put your food scraps to work
- Freeze for later: make food scrap broth even if you don’t have soup on your weekly meal plan — just freeze for later use, your future self will thank you
- Skip these scraps: there are some foods that have leaves or other parts that are not meant to be eaten. Skip tomato leaves, stone fruit seeds (apricots, cherries, etc.), and rhubarb leaves because they are toxic when consumed
Love this simple food scrap soup recipe? Check out our other seasonal soups recipes, like this Instant Pot Pumpkin Soup or Roasted Tomato Leek Soup.
Did you make this Homemade Food Scrap Vegetable Broth? Leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let us know how it turned out. Save this vegetable broth recipe for later by pinning to your favorite winter Pinterest board and make sure to tag me on Fork in the Road’s Instagram to show me your soup creations!
Homemade Food Scrap Vegetable Broth
Homemade Food Scrap Vegetable Broth, an easy homemade soup broth recipe using vegetable food scraps. Repurpose food by stocking up on this simple vegetable stock!
- Author: Kristina Todini, RDN
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings (2 cups each) 1x
- Category: Soups + Stews
- Method: Boiling
- Cuisine: American
- To a large soup pot, add vegetable scraps, water, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for 30 minutes.
- Remove pot from heat and strain out vegetables, keep the broth. Use immediately, or let cool and freeze for later use.
- To thaw from frozen: let broth container cool in refrigerator one day ahead of using, or leave on counter for a few hours and then add to a soup pot over low heat to melt the rest of the frozen broth
- Notes: The possibilities for vegetable scrap soup are endless, use any food scraps or vegetables that you have on hand. Adding herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper will always help to boost flavor.
- Tools Needed: a large soup pot, strainer, glass storage containers
- Prep Ahead: make this homemade vegetable stock weeks, or even months, ahead of time. Freeze and defrost before using.
- Leftovers and Storage: let vegetable broth cool and then freeze in glass storage containers for up to three months (possibly longer)
- Nutrition notes: nutrition information for broth after vegetables are strained. Depending on the vegetables used, this broth will have a different nutrition profile.
- Serving Size: 1 serving (2 cups)
- Calories: 19
- Sugar: 0g
- Sodium: 239mg
- Fat: 0g
- Saturated Fat: 0g
- Unsaturated Fat: 0g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 5g
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 1g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Keywords: homemade food scrap vegetable broth, vegetable stock recipe, food scrap soup