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Carrot Top Pistou Recipe with Lemon

Open jar of homemade vibrant green carrot top pistou with a red napkin in the background.

Back off Bugs, carrot tops aren’t just for bunnies. This naturally vegan recipe for carrot top pistou produces a vibrant, fresh and zingy condiment that livens up all sorts of dishes. It’s super quick to make and can be on the table in five minutes.

Carrot Tops

As regular readers will know, I can’t abide waste, especially food waste. If you’re lucky enough to find bunched carrots with their feathery green tops in tact, don’t throw those tops away. Make my carrot top pistou instead.

Like most edible greens, carrot tops are really nutritious. Surprisingly, or maybe not, the tops have heaps more vitamin C in them than the actual carrots do. They’re said to be particularly good for bone density, digestion, vision, healthy kidneys and regulating blood pressure.

What is Pistou?

Pistou is a lighter and naturally vegan version of traditional Genovese pesto. It comes from Provence in France rather than Genoa in Italy and it doesn’t have the nuts and cheese. In Provence, it’s traditionally prepared for soupe au pistou, which is a fresh vegetable soup similar to minestrone. The name is a Provencal word derived from the latin pestare which means to pound. Therein likes the clue to its preparation. For all the artisans out there, grab your pestle and mortar and start pounding. This way of preparing it is meant to produce the creamiest consistency. I have to confess, I’ve never tried this method; I’ve opted for the much easier blender or food processor option.

Traditional French pistou only contains four ingredients. These are: basil, garlic, salt and olive oil. My carrot top pistou has five. Carrot tops have a very different quality to basil; not only are they drier but also less fragrant. They have a mild carroty flavour and are slightly bitter. I feel it needs a bit of lemon zest and juice to lift it and give it some zing. It works a treat.

Carrot Top Pistou with Lemon

This is an incredibly easy recipe to make and a fast one too. Five minutes should see it from veg rack to table. This does assume you have a food processor or blender to hand. If you make it in the traditional way with a pestle and mortar, it will take a bit longer.

Carrot greens on a chopping board being chopped with a bunch of carrots in the background.

As there are so few ingredients in this carrot top pistou, the quality of them is absolutely key. Cut the carrot greens from your newly harvested or bought carrots, wash them and use straight away. Try to use a good flavoursome sea salt. My go to salt for most cooking is unrefined Atlantic grey sea salt which is full of minerals and has a slight flavour of the sea. Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil if you can. A peppery one works well. Also, try to use an organic lemon. All it needs is a quick rinse under water and you won’t get any of the horrid chemicals they spray on other lemons – even unwaxed ones.

We grow our own garlic, but at this time of year our cloves are long gone. But now is the time to harvest garlic scapes. I used four of these rather than a clove of garlic in this batch of carrot top pistou.

CT holding a roasted carrot & sausage wrap with pistou.

Last night we ate veggie sausage and roasted carrot wraps with some of this batch of carrot top pistou. Please forgive CT his fingernails. Sometimes I reckon he spends more time with his hands in the soil than he does with them out of it.

Froothie Power Blender

You don’t really need a power blender to make this carrot top pistou, a normal blender or food processor will work fine. If, however, you want your pistou to be super smooth, a Froothie power blender will do the trick. My Optimum Vac2 Air Vacuum Blender* sits on my kitchen top permanently as I use it nearly every day. So, even though I didn’t actually want my pistou to be ultra smooth, this is what I used. I find a low speed works best for this sort of thing. It seems to stop the blades getting gummed up.

I added everything to the blender at once, except for two tablespoons of the olive oil. After everything had blended to a texture I was happy with, I added another spoon. Once this was briefly blended I added the final spoon, which gave it just the consistency I wanted.

As a Froothie ambassador, I can offer you a £20 discount off any other Froothie blender*. There are a few of them. Use the code AMB20 + 2483 when you order.

How to Use Carrot Top Pistou

  • Dress pasta in the same way as pesto. Just scatter a few toasted nuts over the top. Pine nuts are particularly good for this, as are walnuts. If you’re not vegan, some crumbled feta cheese is good instead of, or even as well as, the nuts. Alternatively, top with fried mushrooms.
  • Spread on wraps, bread or toast as a base layer for whatever you’re putting on top.
  • Mix into roast vegetables as soon as they come out of the oven.
  • Spoon over steamed or boiled vegetables when serving.
  • Add a spoonful or two to soup as you’re serving it.
  • Use as a salad dressing. You might want to add a little more oil and lemon juice for this.

Open jar of homemade carrot top pistou with a red napkin in the background.

Top Tips for Carrot Top Pistou

Pistou is the sort of condiment that is infinitely variable. It’s easily adapted to suit individual tastes and it’s well worth having a jar in the fridge. Here are some of my top tips on how to vary it and keep it fresh.

  • Roughly chop the carrot greens first as this will make the blending process easier.
  • Use more olive oil to make it a bit runnier and more sauce like. Try adding another 2-4 tbsp bit by bit until you get the consistency you want.
  • Add a few sprigs of another herb to the mix for additional flavour. I’ve found that oregano or even marjoram work well with the mild carroty flavour. But basil, mint or dill are all good too.
  • Seal the jar with olive oil and it will last in the fridge for several weeks.
  • Add a handful of walnuts before blending.
  • No carrot tops? Use traditional basil instead.
  • Not sure about pistou? Make pesto instead. Swap the wild garlic for carrot tops in this recipe for wild garlic pesto – two ways.

Show Me

Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make this carrot top pistou, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or via social media. Do share photos on your preferred social media site and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them. For more delicious and nutritious recipes, follow me on TwitterFacebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

Carrot Top Pistou. PIN IT.

Open jar of homemade vibrant green carrot top pistou with a red napkin in the background.

Other Recipes Using Carrot Tops You Might Like

If you want to know what to do with the actual carrots, I have several carrot recipes on my blog. And you’ll find even more ideas on my carrot Pinterest board.

Carrot Top Pistou – The Recipe

Open jar of homemade vibrant green carrot top pistou with a red napkin in the background.
Print Pin
5 from 8 votes

Carrot Top Pistou

A vibrant, fresh and zingy condiment that livens up all sorts of dishes. It's super quick to make and can be on the table within five minutes.
Mobile previewDesktop preview
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: Dips, Spreads & Sauces
Cuisine: French
Keyword: carrot tops, condiment, pesto, pistou, quick
Servings: 1 small jars
Calories: 585kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 small bunch carrot tops - washed & trimmed if necessary
  • 1 clove garlic - peeled (I used 4 garlic scapes instead)
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp sea salt (I used Atlantic grey sea salt)
  • ½ lemon - zest & juice

Instructions

  • Roughly chop the carrot tops and garlic. This isn't strictly necessary, but it makes the blending process easier.
  • Place all ingredients, except for 2 tbsp of the olive oil, in a blender or food processor. Blend on a low setting until you have more or less your desired consistency. I used my Optimum Vac2 Air Vacuum Blender.
  • Add one of the reserved tablespoons of olive oil and blend briefly. Finally add the last one and briefly blend again.

Notes

How much olive oil you add, will very much depend on the size of your carrot top bunch. If you prefer a more sauce like consistency, just add another 1-4 tbsp of olive oil - spoon by spoon until you have the texture you're looking for.
Will keep in a sealed jar in the fridge for a few days. To keep it fresh and green for up to a month, cover the top with olive oil before sealing. Alternatively, freeze in ice cube trays for handy-sized portions.
Please note: calories and other nutritional information are per serving. They're approximate and will depend on serving size and exact ingredients used.

Nutrition

Calories: 585kcal

Sharing

I’m sharing this jar of carrot top pistou with Everyday Healthy Recipes for #CookBlogShare.

This post contains affiliate links to Froothie Optimum products*. Links are marked with an *. If you buy through a link it won’t cost you any more, but I’ll get a small commission. Thanks to my readers for supporting the brands and organisations that help to keep Tin and Thyme blithe and blogging.

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30 Comments

  1. Mary

    14th May 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Nice with a hearty slice of cheese. Don’t see Carrot Tops very often but if I chance on some they will be muddled up in no time. Not a gardener either!! Thanks for the idea. Looking forward to having a go.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      15th May 2019 at 10:14 am

      Good luck Mary. I hope you manage to find some. We had it for supper last night with halloumi cheese, leeks and asparagus. It just seems to enhance everything without overpowering.

      Reply
  2. angiesrecipes

    15th May 2019 at 6:06 am

    Simple, fresh and very tasty! Definitely must get some in our small farmer market this week.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      15th May 2019 at 10:12 am

      A farmers market is ideal. It’s not that easy to get hold of carrots complete with tops.

      Reply
  3. johanna @ green gourmet giraffe

    15th May 2019 at 2:14 pm

    I was so sure pistou was a soup but made sense when I read it is often used in a soup. I am very admiring of anyone who can use carrot tops in a recipe – this looks great – and I love the photo of CT’s earthy hands – just right for a photo of someone who is earthy enough to eat their carrot tops and not throw them away

    Reply
    • Choclette

      15th May 2019 at 2:51 pm

      Hahaha Johanna, you’ve hit it bang on. Earthy is a good way to describe CT. It’s a bit confusing as there’s a famous Provancal soup called soupe au pistou, but pistou is the paste that then goes into the soup.

      Reply
  4. Monika Dabrowski

    15th May 2019 at 2:36 pm

    Such a great way of using up carrot tops, must be absolutely delicious, and that wrap looks really scrumptious. Thank you for bringing your lovely sauce to #CookBlogShare

    Reply
    • Choclette

      15th May 2019 at 2:52 pm

      Thanks Monika. The wrap was really good. We had another one last night with halloumi, asparagus and baby leeks. That was pretty good too.

      Reply
  5. Jacqueline Meldrum

    16th May 2019 at 10:34 pm

    What a great recipe Choclette and those wraps look awesome. Unfortunately my supermarket carrots don’t have tops ;(

    Sharing!!!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      17th May 2019 at 5:48 pm

      Start asking for them Jac. It’s only this time of the year, they’re really available, but at least you’d then know your new season carrots really were new and fresh.

      Reply
  6. Chloe

    17th May 2019 at 8:37 am

    What a great idea! Unfortunatly I haven’t seen carrots with tops around here for years!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      17th May 2019 at 5:47 pm

      No, it’s really sad that so many of our veg are all hacked about before we get hold of them. But you can always use the original basil or some other herb instead.

      Reply
  7. Mina Joshi

    17th May 2019 at 9:49 am

    I like this easy to follow recipe. When we were growing up in Kenya, My mum often added carrot tops to any curry she was making but I haven’t used them here. I must remember to use them in future.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      17th May 2019 at 5:44 pm

      Adding them to curries sounds like a great idea Mina. Next time I get some, I’ll give that a try.

      Reply
  8. Jenny Walters

    17th May 2019 at 2:56 pm

    This is something totally new to me and sounds delicious! I love the sound of that wrap too! What a great addition to wraps. This is something I would definitely make if I can get my hands on some carrot tops!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      17th May 2019 at 5:43 pm

      Yes, getting your hands on carrot tops may not be that easy if you don’t grow your own or get a veg box. But some greengrocers will have them at this time of year and some farmer’s markets will too. But you can always resort to the classic basil instead.

      Reply
  9. Corina Blum

    20th May 2019 at 12:02 pm

    I make a pesto recipe with carrot tops too whenever I actually get them! Your recipe sounds lovely and light and definitely a good way of avoiding food waste.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      20th May 2019 at 3:26 pm

      Pesto or pistou are very good ways to use them up I reckon, though I have made a few other things with them too.

      Reply
  10. Eb Gargano | Easy Peasy Foodie

    20th May 2019 at 5:30 pm

    Such a great way to use up something that is usually thrown away! I bet it tastes amazing too 😀 Eb x

    Reply
    • Choclette

      21st May 2019 at 8:43 am

      It’s a great way to use carrot tops and it livened up our sandwiches wonderfully for a few days.

      Reply
  11. Nickki

    22nd May 2019 at 12:42 pm

    This is a great idea – I love recipes that use up ingredients that we would otherwise throw away. Looks delicious!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      22nd May 2019 at 1:43 pm

      Thanks Nickki. We added some carrot tops as a last minute ingredient to a stir-fry last night. That was good too.

      Reply
  12. Anna | Serving Dumplings

    22nd May 2019 at 6:08 pm

    Such a great idea. Love no-waste recipes

    Reply
    • Choclette

      22nd May 2019 at 6:44 pm

      There’s little food waste in our household as we have a garden and compost everything, but I still prefer to eat what we can before it goes on the compost heap.

      Reply
  13. Ceri Jones

    23rd May 2019 at 7:37 pm

    I’ve made salsa verde and tabbouleh with carrot tops before, it’s great. The tabbouleh not so nice but anything spun into a dressing is fantastic. Love a pistou!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      23rd May 2019 at 7:46 pm

      Interesting that the tabbouleh wasn’t so great. I’ve been adding them to stir-fries, which seems to work well.

      Reply
  14. Cat | Curly's Cooking

    26th May 2019 at 10:04 pm

    Love that this pistou uses something that would usually be thrown away or added to the compost pile. What a great idea.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      1st June 2019 at 12:23 pm

      Thanks Cat. If you’ve got a compost bin, it’s not so bad, but still better to eat the greens directly if they’re in good condition.

      Reply
  15. Mayuri Patel

    27th May 2019 at 10:12 am

    I don’t get to see carrots with the greens in the Kenyan market as I guess they use it to feed animals. However, I’ve bought carrots with greens from a market in Montreal and have thrown them away…please don’t roll your eyes 😉 Next time I know how to use them with all the suggestions you’ve given.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      1st June 2019 at 12:22 pm

      No rolling of eyes going on here. Carrot greens aren’t the most obvious veg to use. Interesting about them being used as animal feed in Kenya. That makes sense.

      Reply

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