I love to cook using local produce that I have either grown myself or purchased from a local farmer. The flavor is richer. The colors are often more vibrant. And I feel good knowing that I am eating local and supporting Santa Barbara agriculture. Because of this, the produce I use means so much more to me and and I find myself not wanting to let anything go to waste. So a while back I started thinking about "nose to tail" cooking for produce and the benefits of using the entire vegetable. Now I make soup stock with the parts that I would normally throw away or compost, pickle fennel and chard stems, saute beet greens ... you get the idea. But my favorite thing to do is roast carrots and make carrot top pesto! An additional bonus is that carrot tops are highly nutritive, rich in protein, minerals and vitamins. So this pesto is super healthy too!
• 1 bunch locally grown carrots
• 2 cups carrots tops (greens), stems removed
• 1/4 cup basil
• 2 to 3 cloves garlic
• 3 tablespoons pine nuts
• 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
• 1/2 cup olive, plus extra for roasting carrots
• Sea salt and pepper to taste
1. Set oven to 425 degrees.
2. While oven is warming up, cut carrots into long slices and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil on carrots and sprinkle with a pinch or two of sea salt.
3. Place carrots in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until carrots are nicely roasted. They should be tender but not mushy.
4. While carrots are roasting, prepare the pesto.
5. Take out a Cuisinart or heavy duty blender. Add the carrot tops, basil, garlic and process until well combined.
6. Next add the pine nuts, olive oil, parmesan and salt and pepper to taste and process until pesto is ready. I like to add a 1/4 teaspoon of salt ata time, taste it and add more if necessary.
7. When carrots are done, drizzle with pesto. Eat as is or top with burrata, feta or more parmesan.
Now this is the best part, you will have pesto left over! So make an extra pizza, use in sandwiches as a spread or just dip your favorite raw veggies in this healthy sauce!
Photos by Lauren Ross