Carrot Top Pesto

This springtime pesto is a delicious way to eat well while reducing food waste.

Carrot Top Pesto

Matt Taylor-Gross

Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
10 mins
1 cup

I’m a sucker for those bunches of carrots that still have their greens attached when I see them at the farmers market and in grocery stores in the spring. They look so elegant; carrots straight out of a Peter Rabbit book. They feel like the Platonic ideal of carrots, in contrast to the sometimes sad-looking bagged carrots I usually pick up.

But what is the point of buying these next-level carrots with their long, lacy greens if you are just going to chop those off and toss them in the trash? If you believe in eating your greens, carrot greens should be part of that plan. Carrot tops often hold a lot of dirt, so I like to soak them in cold water for a few minutes and then rinse them well before using them. They have a wonderful fresh, green flavor, similar to parsley. You can chop them up and add them to soups, stews, or frittatas, but my favorite use for them is this pesto. 

This is a hand-chopped pesto, so is a bit chunkier than most pesto. Chopping everything by hand yields a pesto with varied textures, and when you mix in the olive oil, you don’t get an emulsified sauce. If you prefer, you can make a smoother version of it by pulsing everything in a food processor until it achieves the texture you are looking for. 

Serve this pesto over grilled or roasted meat, vegetables or fish. You can also stir it into a grain bowl or risotto, or dollop it on top of an omelet or frittata. I also like to serve it with toasted bread and fresh vegetables as a dip, either alone or atop a large smear of ricotta.


  • 1 cup carrot tops, tough stems discarded

  • 1 garlic clove

  • 1/3 cup pistachios

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • Kosher salt

  • Black pepper

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Chop carrot tops into small pieces; it’s fine to have some pieces larger than others. Using a microplane grater, grate garlic into carrot tops.

  2. Crush pistachios into small pieces with a mallet or a small, heavy pan and add to carrot top mixture. Stir in crushed red pepper flakes and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir in olive oil, adding more if desired to achieve the consistency you prefer. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Pesto can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days.

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