Carrot Top Pistou Recipe with Lemon
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.
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.
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.
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 pesto 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.
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.
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 Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.
Carrot Top Pesto. PIN IT.
Other Recipes Using Carrot Tops You Might Like
- Sweet & sour ketchup noodle stir-fry via A Mummy Too
Carrot Top Pesto – The Recipe
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.
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- 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
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.
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.
I’m sharing this jar of carrot top pesto with Everyday Healthy Recipes for #CookBlogShare.
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