Edmonds Healthy Eating: Carrot top pesto packs a nutritional punch

It’s been “officially” summer for about one month. The summer market has been brimming with local produce for weeks, and my backyard garden has been producing strawberries, raspberries, green beans, herbs, lettuces and lots of delicious carrots. For years I have tried to figure out what to do with the parts of produce that normally get thrown out or in my case, fed to the worms for compost. That’s where the ubiquitous sauce called pesto comes in to play. I have discovered many unique combinations using a variety of herbs and greens to create a variety of pesto type sauces. The traditional pesto combines Genovese basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil and black pepper.

I have been experimenting with using root vegetable tops (the green part!) in stir fries and salads and now pesto-type sauces. Carrot greens are abundant in market and contain an impressive list of nutrients, including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, dietary fiber and antioxidants. The top benefits of these greens include their healthy impact on the immunity, bone density, eye health, circulation, kidney function, blood pressure and digestion. Carrot greens can help to give your immune system a boost, protecting your body against infections. So stop throwing away your carrot tops. Use them in this delicious and easy carrot top pesto.

One of my family’s favorite summertime meals is cold pasta salad with pesto. There are an infinite number of pastas and veggies to use. I can make it vegetarian or top off the salad with a piece of grilled chicken or fish. I use this pesto as a dressing for my pasta salads. If you find that the carrot tops are too bitter for your taste; then, you can blanch them before making this pesto. Also, if you have any extra pesto, freeze it in an ice cube tray, pop it out when frozen and store in a freezer bag for use in a quick dinner. It’s delicious on top of steamed vegetables and seafood as well as on anything where you would use traditional pesto.

Carrot Top Pesto

2 cups carrot tops, packed
½ cup basil leaves, packed
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1/3 cup toasted walnuts (or pine nuts or pecans)
1-2 tablespoons white miso paste
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

1) Pulse carrot tops, basil, and garlic in a food processor until coarsely chopped.

2) Add toasted walnuts, 1 tablespoon of miso paste and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, a good pinch of salt and some fresh ground black pepper. Pulse a couple of times to create coarse puree, scrape down the sides.

3) With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

4) Taste and add a little extra miso, lemon juice or salt to taste. Serve at room temperature.

— By Deborah Binder

Deborah Binder lives in Edmonds with her family. She is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share her experiments with her family and friends. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and freelances around town for local chefs. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at jaideborah@yahoo.com.


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