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    Carrot top pesto is a tasty, versatile recipe to cut kitchen waste

    THE WASHINGTON POST – Tearing off and tossing (or composting) the greens on a bunch of carrots is practically a reflex for most of us. It was for me until recently, when I discovered that carrot greens are more than edible – they’re downright tasty, and nutritious, too.

    With an intensely carrot-y flavour and aroma, carrot greens possess the pleasant earthy bitterness common for leafy greens but with a feathery texture that feels like an herb. Nutritionally, they’re rich in vitamin A, potassium and health-protective plant compounds. To keep them, remove them from the carrots and store separately, in a bag in the refrigerator, as you would other greens. If you keep them attached, the leaves will draw moisture and nutrients from the root and the carrots themselves will not last as long. (That’s one reason they are often removed at the grocery store.)

    You can use carrot greens as you would parsley or cilantro, sprinkling them on a dish as a garnish, or tossing them in salads or salsas; or you can cook them as you would beet greens or kale, sauteed with garlic and oil and a splash of vinegar.

    For this recipe, I turned a whole head of carrot tops into a lovely, lemony pesto, using the same core ingredients as a classic basil pesto, and including fresh basil leaves to add a layer of sweet, floral essence to balance the earthy flavour of the carrot greens.

    Use it like you would any pesto, to toss with pasta, spread on sandwiches or toasts, or to drizzle over cooked potatoes, eggs, chicken breast and so on. It’s a sauce that makes the most of an excellent ingredient that has been at your fingertips all along, just waiting to be discovered rather than discarded.

    Carrot top pesto. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

    CARROT TOP PESTO

    10 minutes
    Six to eight servings

    Don’t toss those carrot tops! They are as tasty and nutritious as other greens and can be used in the same way – to garnish dishes, sprinkle in salads or for sautes and sauces. Here, they are the base of a lovely, lemony pesto which also includes basil leaves for a layer of sweet, floral essence to balance the earthy flavour of the carrot greens. Use it like you would any pesto: toss with pasta, spread on sandwiches or toasts, or drizzle over cooked potatoes, eggs, chicken breast, and so on.

    INGREDIENTS
    – A third cup pine nuts
    – Two small cloves garlic, peeled
    – Four cups lightly packed, well washed and dried carrot top greens
    – One cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, plus more as needed
    – A third cup (one ounce) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    – Two tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    – One tablespoon water
    – Half teaspoon fine salt
    – A quarter teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    – Half cup extra-virgin olive oil

    DIRECTIONS

    In a small, dry skillet over medium heat, toast the pine nuts, shaking the pan frequently, until fragrant and golden brown, about three minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool slightly.

    In a food processor, process the pine nuts with garlic until minced. Add the carrot tops, basil, cheese, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper and process until finely minced. With the machine running, slowly pour the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube and process until well-blended.

    NUTRITION

    Based on eight | Calories: 197; Total Fat: 19g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Cholesterol: 3mg; Sodium: 219mg; Carbohydrates: 3g; Dietary Fibre: 1g; Sugar: 1g; Protein: 3g

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