Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto

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If you are throwing away your carrot tops, you need to Stop-Right-Now!   Sorry Zuber chickens.  Usually my feathered friends next door get all the odds and ends from my kitchen and would normally get my carrot tops too, except that in the spirit of ‘no waste’, I decided to try to use the tops as well since I know they are as nutritious as the carrots. I was looking for a recipe for carrot tops and came across this one for roasted carrots with pesto in Bon Appetit.  I had these lovely carrots which truly exemplify the concept of “Eat the Rainbow”.  They range in color from almost white to dark purple with many shades of yellow, orange and red in between.  Who says carrots are boring?  Roasting them intensifies their flavor, making them rich and creamy, no resemblance to their watery boiled or steamed versions.  As a bonus, with each colorful bite you get a different dose of vitamins.

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Here is what Rainbow Carrots can do for you:

  • Orange: Beta and alpha carotene pigment. This promotes vitamin A production by the body, which is essential for healthy eyes.
  • Purple: Anthocyanin, beta and alpha carotene pigment. Purple carrots typically have an orange core, and their pigment-related nutrients may provide additional vitamin A and prevent heart disease.
  • Red: Lycopene and beta-carotene pigment. Lycopene is the same red pigment that gives tomatoes their deep color and is linked to a lower risk of certain cancers, such as prostate cancer.
  • Yellow: Xanthophykks and lutein. Both are linked to cancer prevention and better eye health.
  • White: The nutrients don’t come from the pigment but from the fiber, which promotes healthy digestion.

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Topped with the delicious pesto made right from the carrot tops themselves, these roasted carrots are heavenly.  The pesto is good enough to go out an buy the carrot tops and forget the carrots!  Who knew? If you are looking for a sweeter, more caramelized carrot recipe, you may like my Maple Citrus Glazed Carrots which are pretty delicious and totally worth  a try.  To make the roasted carrots a main course, just slice up the carrots and toss them along with a big dollop of pesto with hot pasta.  I actually had that as a lovely lunch.  I had one leftover carrot (a regular orange one for sure as everyone was enamored with the exotically colored carrots) and some pesto which was still bright green the next day.

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I tossed them all together – yum!  So simple but delicious! It would have been prettier with some multi colored carrots but those were long gone.

 

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TIPS: Pesto can be made 1 day ahead. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface; chill. Carrots can be roasted 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.  Unless your carrots are older with tough skins, scrub them with a kitchen sponge with a scour pad instead of peeling as so many of the vitamins rest at or under the skin.  If you want to roast carrots that don’t have tops to make pesto, try adding cumin or other spices to jazz them up a bit.

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ROASTED CARROTS WITH CARROT TOP PESTO

2-3 lbs whole carrots with tops
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup olive oil

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  • Preheat oven to 400°. Trim carrot tops, leaving 1 to 2 inches of stem attached. Measure out 2 cups carrot top leaves and set aside.Discard stems. Scrub carrots with a kitchen sponge with a scour pad instead of peeling.

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  • Toss carrots and vegetable oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper.

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  • Roast, tossing occasionally, until carrots are golden brown and tender, 25–35 minutes.

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  • Pulse garlic and nuts in a food processor until a coarse paste forms.

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  • Add basil, parmesan, and reserved carrot tops; process until even.

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  • Add olive oil and pulse until combined; season with salt and pepper. Spoon over carrots to serve.

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Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

20150306_201327

2-3 lbs whole carrots with tops
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup olive oil

  • Preheat oven to 400°. Trim carrot tops, leaving 1 to 2 inches of stem attached. Measure out 2 cups carrot top leaves and set aside.Discard stems. Scrub carrots with a kitchen spunge with a scour pad.
  • Toss carrots and vegetable oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until carrots are golden brown and tender, 25–35 minutes. Let cool.
  • Pulse garlic and nuts in a food processor until a coarse paste forms.
  • Add basil, parmesan, and reserved carrot tops; process until a coarse purße forms.
  • Add olive oil and pulse until combined; season with salt and pepper. Spoon over carrots to serve.

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