A few weeks ago, I came up with this carrot top and garlic scape pesto. And then a few days later, I saw that fellow food writer Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars had done nearly the same thing with carrot tops and garlic scapes. Too funny. At the time, I was desperate for a pesto and basil hadn't made an appearance yet. And garlic scapes were making an appearance on market tables. I didn't want pine nuts (so expensive), so I used walnuts because they reminded me of carrot cake; just toast them in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant. And I wanted to do something useful with the sweet, fragrant feather-like greens from carrots, other than throw them in soup or use them, in a daydreamy sort of way, for a little garnish.
Wait. Who am I kidding? I don't live in a restaurant! I am not going to garnish a plate with carrot greens, unless maybe I have company coming.
As with all pestos, this is a rough template. Alter the amounts to suit your tastebuds and those of your clan.
- 1 bunch of carrot greens, about 2-3 cups, washed (stem removal optional)
- 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
- 1/3 cup pecorino Romano cheese, grated (Parm works too)
- Juice and zest of one lemon
- 3-4 garlic scapes, cut into thirds (or use 1-2 garlic cloves—or more, to taste)
- 2 large pinches of kosher salt and several grinds of fresh black pepper
- 1/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil (augmented with 1-2 T of hot water if you want it a little bit thinner)
Wash and pat dry the greens. Add them to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade, followed by the toasted walnuts, cheese, lemon, scapes and salt and pepper. Process a few times to break up the ingredients, and then, with the processor on, drizzle the olive oil through the funnel until you've reached the desired consistency. I like to add a tablespoon or two of hot water to bring together any stray bits without adding more oil.
Pesto will keep in an airtight container in your fridge for at least several days, but if you know you aren't going to consume all of it, I usually freeze it in lidded ice cube trays, where it keeps through winter. There's something sneaky and rewarding about popping out two or three cubes of that in January.
Use it on pasta, as a base for pizza, stirred into scrambled eggs, and as a topper/garnish for soup. Stir it into Greek yogurt, Team Yogurt-style and then use it as a marinade on chicken, before grilling.