Roasted carrots with carrot top and cilantro pesto

The next time you find yourself eating or cooking with carrots, keep the tops and try out this delicious recipe! Not only will you limit food waste by using the entire carrot, but you will have a side dish ready in no time. 

Servings: 6, as a side dish with plentiful leftover pesto (store half for later)

Prep Time: 5 to 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 to 25 minutes

Ingredients

For the roasted carrots:

  • 1 1/2 pounds young or small carrots, tops trimmed and reserved
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

For the pesto:

  • 3 cups packed carrot tops, rinsed, dried, and roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds, toasted
  • 1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (omit for vegan or plant-based but add pinch of salt)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

For the roasted carrots:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
  2. Trim the carrot tops, leaving 1 inch of green attached. Scrub the carrots clean and dry; no need to peel.
  3. Zest the orange and reserve for the pesto.
  4. Juice the orange and add to a large bowl with the carrots, along with the cumin seeds, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine.
  5. Roast on a sheet pan for 20 to 25 minutes in the upper-third of the oven, or until the carrots are tender and are caramelized in areas.

For the pesto:

  1. After putting the carrots in the oven, toast the almonds for a few minutes in a dry skillet over medium heat. You want them to take on some color and for the smell of almond to rise into the kitchen.
  2. Clean and dry the carrot tops and cilantro, then chop them roughly.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the carrot tops, cilantro, zests of orange and lemon, shallot, grated garlic, almonds, cheese (or salt), and pulse a few times into a coarse paste.
  4. Add the olive oil and lemon juice, then pulse until everything is combined. If the pesto remains a little dry, you can add a little more olive oil as needed or water.
  5. Taste for seasoning and add lemon juice or salt as needed.

Serve the carrots and pesto as a side dish with small dollops of pesto over the carrots or use the pesto as a dip for the carrots.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

  • Calories: 190
  • Total fat: 14 g
  • Saturated fat: 2.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 120 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 14 g
  • Dietary fiber: 4 g
  • Sugars: 6 g
  • Protein: 3 g

Contributor

Benjamin Maring, MD

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