Turn feathery carrot tops into a delicious pesto (Photos: Emma Boyd)

Recipe: Carrot top pesto

Don’t chuck those lovely feathery green carrot tops in the compost bin – make this instead!

We live in a little town in rural Taranaki. This semi-rural lifestyle has countless benefits, but one high on the list is the ready access to fresh, locally grown produce. There are two vegetable farmers no more than 15km from our house: one sells her veges at her front gate, the other at the farm we visit every week to fill our glass bottles with fresh, raw milk. I often buy big bunches of baby carrots, their feathery tops still intact, and with these I have taken to making pesto.

It feels so wonderful being able to use what would normally be composted, turning it into delicious pesto, a wonderful alternative to the more traditional basil variety. The recipe below is dairy-free and vegan. If you don’t have yeast flakes and you eat cheese, you could use parmesan instead. Start with two tablespoons of grated parmesan and add more to taste.    

CARROT TOP PESTO

Makes about 1¼ cups

  • ½ cup (75g) pumpkin seeds, plus extra to serve
  • 3 cups carrot tops, feathery leaves picked from stems
  • ½ cup olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tablespoons yeast flakes/savoury yeast
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Put the pumpkin seeds into a heavy-bottomed frying pan and toast over medium-high heat until the seeds start popping and turn a lovely golden colour. 

Leave to cool then put in a food processor with the remaining ingredients and process until it reaches the desired consistency. This will take a minute or two and you’ll have to stop and scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula as you go.  

Spoon the pesto out into a bowl, drizzle with extra olive oil and scatter with an extra handful of roughly chopped toasted pumpkin seeds before serving.     


The Spinoff’s food content is brought to you by Freedom Farms. They believe talking about food is nearly as much fun as eating it, and they’re excited to facilitate some good conversations around food provenance in Aotearoa New Zealand.


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