I was gifted an alarming amount of excess greens headed to compost at the Portland PSU farmers market this weekend. Just talking with one of the vendors revealed tubs full of produce that isn’t put out for general sale. Beet greens, quite possible one million carrot tops, cauliflower leaves the size of my head, and a few wonky stragglers who didn’t make the display table overflowed out of my questionably clean tote. All of these are totally edible and more often than not forgotten! I was loaded up with extra greens they were happy to get rid of and got down to figuring out just how to prepare these overlooked beauties.
So much of what we buy in the grocery store follows culinary convention. Bulk loose carrots have the tops removed and baby carrots have never even known green – if I’m searching for carrot tops I usually need to go out of my way to find them or ask to keep them intact. Convention has determined the general public doesn’t cook with them. The same can be said for cauliflower and beet greens. Super nutritional leafy friends that just don’t get a good rap. I want to make the most out of my produce, from root to stem! That starts here with a little carrot top pesto people.
It’s possible you’ve seen several recipes for CT pesto, because it’s an awesome way to use up those herbaceous leaves. But I think I hit on something extra special here. I paired a whole lot carrot tops, (holding onto the stems to try pickling them!) fresh basil (the only kind not sold in plastic happens to be the farmers market) and sunflower seeds baby! The seeds add a deep, earthy flavor that contrasts so nicely with the greens and a hit of lemon. Loving this recipe with some fresh summer produce and I hope you do too! Feel free to get a little wild with your choice of vegetables and what’s in season around you.
A great summer inspired pesto and an awesome way to use up those extra carrot tops! Fresh basil and an unexpected earthy flavor from sunflower seeds compliment all your seasonal produce beautifully.
- 3 cups approx carrot tops (remove bottom stem, hold onto for pickling or to add to salads)
- 1 cup approx basil (haven’t tried with other herbs yet but feel free!)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp (if needed) olive oil
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup onion, sliced
- 1 carrot, sliced (I used a few different colored carrots)
- 1/2 sweet potato, sliced (washed well you can keep the skin on)
- 1 broccoli stalk, sliced
- 1 head of broccoli chopped into small florets
- 1/2 green pepper, diced
- 4 - 5 beet greens and stems, sliced
- 1/4 purple cabbage, diced
- lemon juice to flavor
- salt to top off
Combine all pesto ingredients, save olive oil in food processor and pulse. Slowly add in olive oil until smooth. You may need to scrape down sides often to combine thoroughly. Set aside.
Heat large pan (I use my cast-iron<3), when hot add in ¼ water to bottom of pan. Add in onion, carrot, sweet potato, broccoli stalk, and pinch of stalk and cover with lid for 3 - 5 minutes. Color should be vibrant.
Add in remaining vegetables and lemon juice and stir every minute or so to keep from sticking.
Add in a few heaping spoonfuls of pesto and mix in thoroughly until vegetables are evenly coated.
Serve with a bit of salt and lemon and enjoy! Pesto and stir-fry will keep about 2 - 3 days, though best when fresh.
- Just make sure to wash your carrot tops thoroughly. I use about 2 tbsp baking soda and water, mixed well, and then let the tops sit fully submerged for about 10 minutes.
- Stir-fry vegetables are flexible! Use up anything in your fridge that needs to be eaten! This helps you keep a clean fridge and use up anything that might end up in the compost otherwise.
What else do you like to top with pesto??
Let me know if you try this! #closedloopcooking