Roasted carrots are an easy side dish and using the carrot greens to make carrot top pesto is a great way to use the whole vegetable. Nothing goes to waste and you get tender caramelized roasted carrots topped with a flavorful homemade pesto.
I’ve been obsessed with farmer’s market carrots lately, especially the rainbow-colored ones. I use them in salads but I also like making roasted carrots. It’s an easy side dish that goes with lots of main dishes, but when I prep the carrots, I always feel bad for tossing the beautiful green carrot tops. Until recently I wasn’t sure how to use them so they always went to waste.
Then I came across an article on how to use vegetable scraps in unique ways, like making carrot top pesto. It’s such a simple idea and pesto is easy to make I had to try it. So, of course, I used it as an excuse to go back to the farmers market to get more carrots.
While the carrots are roasting you can make the pesto so the whole dish is ready in about 30 minutes.
Roasted Carrots – Ingredients & Steps
You can flavor roasted carrots a lot of different ways (I’ve done honey-garlic carrots, too) and for this recipe, they are lightly seasoned with garlic and onion.
- I like to use farmers market baby carrot – just slice of the tops and cut the carrots in half lengthwise.
- Brush them with a mixture of olive oil, garlic powder, and onion powder.
- Roast them on a baking sheet for 15 to 18 minutes at 400°F until they are crisp-tender.
Depending on how big and thick your carrots are you may need to adjust the cooking time.
How to Make Carrot Top Pesto
This carrot top pesto is just basil pesto but instead of herbs, you use the greens from the top of the carrots. You make it just like traditional pesto.
- You will need 2 cups of packed carrot greens for this recipe.
- Place grated Parmesan grated cheese, pine nuts, and garlic in your food processor. Add the greens and pulse a few times until the ingredients break down and are combined.
- While the food processor is running, slowly pour the olive oil in. The amount of olive oil you will need will vary based on how thick you want your pesto. I like to use ¼ cup but you can add more if you want it thinner.
- Season the pesto with salt and pepper and spoon it over the roasted carrots.
Pesto Recipe Variations
- If you don’t have enough carrot greens for 2 cups you can add other greens. If you don’t have enough carrot greens you can add other kinds of greens to make the two cups. Spinach, kale, parsley, and basil will all work. Doing a mix of greens is an easy way to change up the flavor, too.
- If you want to switch out the pine nuts for another type of nut you can do that, too. Walnuts, almonds, and even pecans will work well. They will change the flavor of the pesto so it’s fun to try different ones to switch up the pesto.
These carrots are so good with the fresh pesto spooned over the top and I love that I don’t have to waste carrot tops anymore.
Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto
- 1 lb farmer's market baby carrots
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
carrot top pesto
- 2 cups packed carrot tops (see note)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (see note)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Slice off the carrot tops and set them aside. Slice carrots in half, lengthwise.
- Combine olive oil, garlic powder and onion powder. Brush carrots with mixture. Place carrots on baking sheet so that they are close but not touching.
- Roast for about 15-18 minutes (depending on size of your carrots) or until carrots are tender but still remain crisp.
- While carrots are cooking, make the pesto. Add carrot tops, cheese, nuts, garlic in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add in olive oil slowly with food processor on, until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add pesto to finished carrots. Store in any unused pesto in an airtight container in fridge (if using within a few days) or freezer (can be stored up to a few months).
- If you don't have enough carrot tops, you can replace half with fresh parsley or basil.
- When making pesto is always better to start with less oil and add more as needed to achieve your desired consistency. If needed, you can up to 1/3 cup total if you like yours a little thinner.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.