Roasted Carrots With Carrot Top Pesto

Carrots are a tasty, crisp, versatile vegetable. They can be used as a vegetable side, as a soup base, or as an addition to a salad or stir-fry. They are readily available, can be grown here in Ontario, and are fairly inexpensive. Don’t forget – they are an excellent source of Vitamin A! Roasting the carrots brings out the natural, sweet flavour, and is super easy!

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Ingredients

3 lbs. small, fresh carrots with tops (careful not to throw the tops away…we are using them!)

2 tbsp. vegetable oil (I use avocado or grapeseed oil)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Pesto:

It may be cheaper to purchase the carrots with the tops, but don’t throw the tops out! When you harvest the carrots from the garden, or bring them home from the store, cut off the tops and make this easy pesto. The pesto can garnish a soup, or bring flavour to a pasta dish.

1 clove peeled garlic, roughly chopped

¼ cup pine nuts or macadamia nuts

½ cup fresh, packed basil leaves

2 cups fresh carrot tops

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. grated lemon zest

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Separate tops from carrots, leaving an inch or so of stem. Scrub the carrots well, then thoroughly wash the green tops. Spread them on a clean towel to dry.

Toss the carrots with the oil on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. (If carrots are larger, I parboil them first)

Roast until the carrots are caramelized and just fork tender. Allow them to cool. These carrots are featured in our Breakfast Lentils! (see recipe below)

Pesto:

Pulse garlic and nuts into a rough paste. Add the basil, lemon zest, carrot tops, and cheese and pulse until puréed. Add lemon juice and olive oil and pulse until mixture is thick and still just a bit chunky. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

If a looser paste is desired, add a little more olive oil or water, a teaspoon at a time.

Store in an airtight container. If freezing, drizzle with a little olive oil so the top is covered. This will keep the basil from turning black.

Toss the carrots with some of the pesto and serve warmed, chilled or at room temperature.

The pesto can be used with pasta, pizza, or in salads. We used in as a garnish in our carrot soup! (See recipe below)