Herbs Make Everything Taste Better

Carrot Top Pesto with Basil & Marcona Almonds

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Herbs popping up in the garden are a welcome sign of spring. In my northwest home there’s parsley, thyme, oregano, chives, and mint.

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto
Photo by Lorelle Del Matto
Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Just in time! In winter, I lean heavily on a frozen stash of herb-based pestos and sauces, and the supply is dwindling.

My first pesto of the season was inspired by another sign of spring – bunches of slender multi-colored carrots with frilly green tops too beautiful to toss in the compost. I plucked the leaves and whirled them with parsley from my garden, basil from the store, and roasted, salted Marcona almonds, one of Spain’s delectable gifts to the culinary world.  

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

I draped the pesto over the carrots, halved lengthwise, spritzed with olive oil, dusted with salt, then roasted in a hot oven (about 425°F) until tender and slightly charred.

This pesto is rich in vitamins A, C and K – and offers up a smattering of minerals – calcium, iron, and potassium. If you’re not up for pesto, use carrot tops as you would other dark leafy greens – such as in a quick sauté with garlic, onions, and peppers. For more tenderness, blanch them before cooking in boiling salted water for 30 to 60 seconds, and plunge into iced water.

Read about the health benefits of carrots in my blogs Roasted Carrot Soup with Ginger and Dukkah, and Roasted Rainbow Carrots. Try my other go-to herb sauces Italian Salsa Verde, Thai Cilantro Sauce, Chimichurri with fresh and dry oregano, and my Radish Leaf Pesto, which uses radish tops and fresh marjoram.

Herbs make everything taste better.

Carrot Top Pesto with Marcona Almonds

Makes about 1 cup.

Use on veggies, or anywhere you use pesto. Instead of basil, use 4 -5 tablespoons of fresh oregano, marjoram, or thyme leaves and about 2/3 to 3/4 cup additional parsley. If you don’t have Marcona almonds, use blanched almonds or pine nuts, lightly toasted, and add a bit more salt.

1 cup fresh carrot top leaves (discard large stems)

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup Marcona almonds

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese or 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast

1 clove garlic

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  1. In bowl of food processor, combine carrot top leaves, basil, parsley, almonds, parmesan, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whirl to finely chop. Add oil and process to blend. Taste and add more salt to taste. Thin as desired with a little water or more olive oil if you like.
  2. Chill for an hour or so to allow flavors to marry.  

© Lorelle Del Matto 2023

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

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