Radish or Carrot Top Pesto – Guest Post by Michelle

Radish or Carrot Top Pesto

I love the arrival of my Farmářské bedýnky every Thursday night. The doorbell rings, I run down five flights of stairs, eager to see what the farmers will surprise me with each week.  Now, THESE fruits and vegetables are FARM fresh: No wax to make it look pretty for the grocery store shelves and no pre-sorted foods that have to look perfect. These fresh fruits and veggies may have lumps and bumps, but they are delicious, local, and full of flavor.  The root vegetables are often still coated in a layer of earth and many still have the greens attached.  While beet and kohlrabi greens make for an excellent stir-fry (with garlic, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and Sriracha), I was unsure of what to do with the carrot and radish tops.  In an effort to not waste anything edible, I jumped on the chance to use these bitter greens.

Last year a friend mentioned using the carrot tops for a pesto. I love pesto. Anything green in my house has a chance of being chopped and blended into one: basil, spinach, cilantro. But the bitterness of radish and carrot greens was a bit of a turn-off. So, the experimentation started. I wasn’t in love with the first few batches. They came out either too bitter or too salty. I found that each time I made it I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. Sometimes the greens needed more citrus, sometimes more spice. Have fun and enjoy using all parts of the amazing, fresh and local radish and carrot!

A note about using fresh carrot and radish greens:
The greens can be quite gritty, so I like to wash them at least twice before using. I start with a warm water and salt soak for 10 minutes. I rinse with water in a colander and dry in the salad spinner. Then I rinse again and spin again.  As an added bonus, the extra rinse and spin helps make you completely sure that you’ve scared any 6-legged creatures far away. The joys of having fresh fruit and veg delivered, occasionally a small friend comes along!

Basic steps for Radish or Carrot greens pesto

  1. Wash
  2. Chop greens in food processor for 1 minute
  3. Add other ingredients
  4. Continue to chop in the food processor
  5. Taste, spice and flavor as you like!

Radish Greens Pesto

2 bunches of radish tops

2 garlic cloves, minced

1-2 Tbsp. olive oil

½ Tbsp. lemon juice

¼ cup pine nuts or almonds

salt, pepper, red chili flakes to taste

Carrot Greens Pesto

1 bunch carrot tops

2 garlic cloves, minced

1-2 Tbsp. olive oil

½ Tbsp. lime juice

⅓ cup cashews

lots of cinnamon (it cuts the bitterness nicely)

salt, pepper to taste

At first the pesto can be a bit bitter. It needs at least a day in the fridge for the flavors to combine.  The pesto keeps well in a sealed container for 2-3 weeks in the fridge. Every few days I add a light layer of olive oil and give it a stir to help keep the pesto green.

These pestos go great on salads, over roasted veggies, or even as a dollop in a vegetable soup.

(adapted from a recipe found on Chocolate and Zucchini)

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