Do you have a favorite veggie? One you love so much that you’ve considered getting it inked somewhere on your body? If so, we should probably be friends.
For me, that veggie is carrots. Particularly those that come in multi-colored bunches, beautiful green tops kept attached and in tact.
Carrots are simply a delightful sight, and I happen to absolutely adore their earthy, slightly sweet flavor, too.
However, it wasn’t until, perhaps just last year, that I would do much with a bunch’s tops. Despite this, it had always pained me to dump all of those elegant, lacy greens into the trash. I’m not one to waste food, especially when it’s the kind that comes straight from the ground and still appears rather fresh.
So, I finally decided to do some research. The result? Without too much surprise, I discovered that carrots were edible from head-to-toe, and that I no longer should be trashing their tops.
Since, I remain determined to find new ways to use them. I’d invite you to do the same. (And share your findings with me!)
What do carrot tops taste like? To me, the little leaves resemble the qualities of an herb – very unique in flavor and fairly pungent. I’d liken it to parsley, with a fresh flavor that can cut other rich foods, yet with a slightly bitter touch.
Like herbs, I love to loosely chop the leaves, and use them for topping salads and sandwiches. I also love them for a flavorful pesto-like spread, such as this one.
Given the flavor of carrot tops, this spread is a bit more bitter than a traditional basil pesto, which is why it pairs so nicely with the sweetness of roasted carrots. The beans add a boost of protein to it and also mellow out the flavor. Together with crunchy cabbage and sunflower seeds, all sandwiched into a pita, this creamy spread feels almost decadent. Yet, it doesn’t require much more effort than it takes to pull out the food processor and place it on your kitchen counter. Thank you to whoever invented this wonderful appliance.
I chose to keep this dish vegan, but feel free to add some goat cheese or feta on top. You could also swap the pita for a whole wheat tortilla wrap if pita is not available. Enjoy!
- For the spread:
- -2 cloves garlic
- -2 packed cups carrot tops, thoroughly rinsed
- -1 lg. lemon, juiced
- -1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- -1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- -1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- -1/2 tsp. salt + pinch
- -1 tsp. red hot chili pepper flakes
- -1 Tbsp. mint
- To assemble:
- -1/2 sm. head of red cabbage, very thinly sliced
- -4 round whole wheat pitas, halved
- -1/2 pound carrots, (if available, use young/baby carrots) halved
- -Olive oil
- -1/4 cup unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange carrots in a single layer, and lightly drizzle with olive oil to coat. Bake 20-30 minutes, stirring halfway, until carrots are tender.
- Meanwhile, assemble the spread. Pulse garlic cloves in a food processor. Add remaining ingredients, and process until smooth.
- Wrap pitas in aluminum foil, and place in the oven until warm, about 5 minutes. Spread a layer of pesto on both interior side of the pita. Then, spread one side with a layer of chopped cabbage. Top that same side with carrots, and sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Sandwich the pita halves together. Repeat with remaining pita, and then enjoy!