pesto

Vegan Carrot Top Pesto

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In an effort to reduce food waste, we recently used the greens from some locally grown organic carrots to make this incredible vegan carrot top pesto. And my word, I’m glad we did!

Many root vegetables like beetroots and carrots naturally grow with gorgeous green leaves on top, but farmers often remove them to make transporting and packaging them easier.

Locally grown carrots are often sold with the greens still intact, because they don’t have the transportation issues that larger scale farmers do. If you can find some, you should take advantage, because those greens are like a free gift with your carrots - they’re delicious (they taste a little like parsley) and are extremely versatile - try them chopped up in your salads, saute them as a side dish, or make this incredible vegan carrot top pesto!

This pesto goes brilliantly simply stirred through pasta, drizzled over roasted carrots or new potatoes, spread on to bruschetta with tomatoes, or of course, you can just dip some chunky fresh bread straight into the jar as a quick snack as I’ve been doing!

In the spring, another variation of this pesto I love to make is using wild garlic you can forage yourself - check out the recipe here.

Carrot tops are particularly high in vitamin C (about six times the amount in the carrot root) as well as potassium, calcium and as with most bitter greens, they’re packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants, so you know they’re great for your health too.

Because carrots are often grown in loose soil, the carrot tops can be sandy, so wash them thoroughly in plenty of water before using them.

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Vegan Carrot Top Pesto Recipe

Ingredients (serves 6):

  • 80g walnuts

  • 80g pinenuts

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 80g extra virgin olive oil

  • 80g carrot top greens (tough stalks removed)

  • 80g fresh basil (or mint or parsley)

  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar

  • 1 tsp apple juice concentrate (or maple syrup)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Start by preparing your nuts (this step is optional but adds a beautiful depth of flavour to your carrot top pesto).

Roast the walnuts in your oven at 180C (360F) for 8-10 minutes until they start to become fragrant. Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan, tossing them frequently for a few minutes until they’re also golden and fragrant.

Now blitz the walnuts and pine nuts in a food processor until they are coarsely ground, as per the picture below. Then add all the other carrot top pesto ingredients to the processor, and whizz everything up, until you reach the desired consistency.

Taste a bit of the pesto and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, lemon, apple juice concentrate or maple syrup, depending on how the flavours are balancing.

Stir a big dollop of this vegan carrot top pesto through some cooked pasta, use it to spread on bruschetta with fresh tomatoes, or just dip some chunky fresh bread in for a quick and delicious snack!

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Nutrition (per serving):

  • Protein: 6.1g (Women: 12.2% / Men: 11.1%)

  • Iron: 2.1mg (Women: 14.2% / Men: 24.1%)

  • Calories: 310 (Women: 15.5% / Men: 12.4%)

  • Sugars: 2.1g (Women: 2.3% / Men: 1.8%)

  • Total Fats: 31.1g (Women: 44.4% / Men: 32.7%)

  • Saturated Fat: 3.2g (Women: 16.0% / Men: 10.7%)

  • Salt: 0.3g (Women: 5.0% / Men: 5.0%)

  • Fibre: 2.4g (Women: 8.0% / Men: 8.0%)

See the Nutrition Info page for more details on % of Dietary Reference Values for men and women.

Vegan Wild Garlic Pesto

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It’s not too late to get out into the woods and pick some of your own wild garlic! In the UK and much of Europe, it grows prolifically in shaded, damp woodland areas and riverbanks from March, when the leaves are young and tender. Later in the spring and early summer the leaves grow larger and can become a little stringy, so just look for patches where the smaller, tender young leaves are growing.

This vegan wild garlic pesto is so deliciously fragrant, vibrant, and flavoursome. Just add a big dollop of it to cooked pasta and stir through some other nice greens or wilted spinach for a quick and delicious dinner. There’s nothing more satisfying than cooking and eating food that you’ve foraged yourself, especially when it tastes this good, I promise!

Wild garlic is a great place to start if you’re new to foraging, but always make sure you can 100% positively identify anything before you eat it. Here’s a great round up of wild garlic foraging tips by Countryfile to get you started.

If you don’t have access to wild garlic or you’ve left it a bit late in the year, you can still make delicious vegan pesto by substituting the wild garlic for more fresh basil, parsley, spinach, rocket )arugula) or cress. Just add a clove of garlic to replace that lovely garlicky hit that any good pesto needs. Or if you’re into reducing food waste, check out this incredible vegan carrot top pesto recipe.

If you like foraging, you’ll also love this vegan nettle dhal recipe with instructions on how to pick your own nettles!

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Vegan wild garlic pesto recipe

Ingredients (serves 6):

  • 80g pinenuts

  • 80g hazelnuts

  • 120ml olive oil

  • 80g wild garlic (thoroughly washed)

  • 80g fresh basil

  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar

  • 1 tsp maple syrup

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Start by preparing your nuts (this step is optional but adds a beautiful depth of flavour to your pesto).

Roast the hazelnuts in your oven at 180C (360F) for 8-10 minutes until the skins begin to darken. You can then remove most of the skins by rubbing the roasted hazelnuts between a folded clean tea towel, this step ensures your pesto stays a vibrant green colour without the dark hazelnut skins. Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan, tossing them frequently for a few minutes until they are golden and fragrant.

Now blitz the hazelnuts and pine nuts in a food processor until they are coarsely ground. Then add all the other pesto ingredients to the processor, and whizz everything up, until you reach the desired consistency.

Taste a bit of the pesto and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, lemon, or maple syrup, depending on how the flavours are balancing.

Stir a big dollop of the pesto through some cooked pasta, and enjoy!

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Nutrition (per serving):

  • Protein: 5.5g (Women: 11.0% / Men: 10.0%)

  • Iron: 2.9mg (Women: 19.6% / Men: 33.3%)

  • Calories: 355 (Women: 17.8% / Men: 14.2%)

  • Total Fats: 36.8g (Women: 40.9% / Men: 30.7%)

  • Saturated Fat: 3.9g (Women: 19.5% / Men: 13.0%)

  • Salt: 0.2g (Women: 3.3% / Men: 3.3%)

  • Fibre: 3.3g (Women: 11.0% / Men: 11.0%)

See the Nutrition Info page for more details on % of Dietary Reference Values for men and women.

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