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This garlicky carrot top pesto can be used in dozens of ways (pasta sauce! salad dressing! dipping sauce!) aside from pizza. This recipe from Daniela Moreira of Timber Pizza Co. is part of Healthyish Superpowered, a dinner series honoring female activists and chefs across the country, in partnership with Caviar.
- 2¼ cups bread or all-purpose flour
- 1½ Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Toppings and Assembly
- ⅓ cup coarsely grated Parmesan
- 1 small garlic clove, grated
- 1 cup basil leaves, plus more for serving
- 1 cup tender carrot tops, plus more for serving
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- ¼ cup mint leaves, plus more for serving
- 4 medium carrots, finely sliced on a mandoline, divided
- ½ serrano chile, very thinly sliced, divided
- Pea shoots and/or blue basil (for serving)
Mix sugar, yeast, and ¾ cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl if doing by hand) fitted with the dough hook. Stir in flour and 1½ Tbsp. oil. Mix on low speed, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until dough comes together in a smooth mass and no longer sticks to the sides of bowl, 5–6 minutes. Cover dough and let rest 30 minutes at room temperature. Add salt and continue to knead until fully incorporated into dough.
Turn out dough onto a work surface. Cut dough in half, then shape each half into a ball. Place each ball in separate medium bowls. Drizzle with just enough oil to coat. Cover bowls with plastic wrap. Chill at least 24 hours and up to 2 days.
Let dough come to room temperature until nearly doubled in size and slowly springs back when poked, 2–2½ hours. Dough is now ready for shaping.
Toppings and Assembly
Place a rack in top third of oven; preheat to 475° (if you have a pizza stone, use it!). Pulse cheese, garlic, lime juice, 1 cup basil, 1 cup carrot tops, ⅓ cup oil, and ¼ cup mint in a food processor until smooth; season with salt. (You can also make the carrot top pesto by chopping everything by hand.)
Stretch dough, 1 ball at a time, on a lightly oiled large rimmed baking sheet until 12–14" in diameter. Spread with half of the pesto, then top with half of carrots and chiles. Drizzle with more oil; season with salt.
Bake on top rack until crust is golden brown and crisp, 10–12 minutes. Let pizza cool 1 minute, then top with carrot tops, basil, mint, pea shoots and/or blue basil. Serve immediately.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup water, or more to taste
- 2 large eggs
- 1 splash olive oil
- 2 pinches salt
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 ½ tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 ½ cups lightly packed fresh basil
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 pinch salt
Combine flour, 1/4 cup water, eggs, olive oil, and salt for pasta in the bowl of a food processor pulse a few times until just combined. Pinch dough to see if it sticks together and forms a small clump. If it's dry or crumbly, add more water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, just until the dough forms a ball.
Dump dough onto a floured surface. Knead until dough is smooth and bounces back when you poke it. Wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Remove dough from the refrigerator and pull off a small chunk, about 1/2 teaspoon or smaller. Place dough at the bottom of a wooden cutting board and starting with the tips or your fingers, firmly roll up the board, like you are rolling the dough into a tube. Once the dough is at the base of your palm, keep pressure on it and pull it back and down the board, diagonally at a 45-degree angle to create a spiral shape. Repeat until all dough has been shaped.
Combine garlic and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor process until sandy in texture. Add basil and oil and process until smooth. Stir in grated Parmesan cheese until combined. Taste and add salt if needed.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add trofie and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender yet firm to the bite, about 12 minutes. Drain.
Toss cooked trofie with pesto and serve immediately.
How to Make Pesto Out of (Almost) Anything
Please do not buy pesto. This is a plea, a P.S.A., if you will: Do not, under any circumstance, purchase a prepared jar of pesto. Because making pesto is so dang easy you could be halfway done before you&aposre even finished with this article.
Pesto is also one of the most customizable spreads there is𠅊nd a good way to avoid food waste. Basil is for sure great--but so are radish tops, kale, collard greens, or whatever else you have in your crisper. You can use whatever nuts you have on hand (or not). And you can use up the odd bits of salty, hard cheese (or not).
An impromptu pesto is as easy as one-two-food processor. Here&aposs how:
1. Something green (although these red pepper and sun-dried tomato pestos would beg to differ): This can be basil, parsley, chopped collard greens or mustard greens, steamed broccoli, chopped kale, kale stems (be sure too boil them until tender), chopped dandelion greens, spinach, radish tops, chopped beet greens, peas, chopped turnip greens, mint, chopped sorrel, arugula, edamame, carrot tops, or cilantro. You can use one of these or combine them, like peas and basil or a few different herbs. You&aposll want about 2 to 4 cups, depending on how much pesto you&aposd like to make and how herbaceous you want it.
2. Toasted nuts: This can be pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pepitas, or sunflower seeds. Be sure the nuts are toasted, though, as this deepens their flavor. Use about 1/4 to 1/2 cup (if your pesto&aposs tasting too herby, just add more nuts).
3. Grated cheese: Parmesan and pecorino Romano are a good bet here. You want it salty and sharp. Start with 1 cup of grated cheese and add more as desired. For vegan or dairy-free pesto, substitute nutritional yeast, and use about 1/4 cup.
4. Garlic: One or two average-sized cloves will do for a mild garlic flavor, but you can use up to 4 if you love a rawgarlic bite. If you go a little overboard and the pesto&aposs too garlicky, add a touch more cheese to neutralize.
How to make pesto in a food processor
Making pesto in your food processor is the quickest, easiest way to make it at home! Simply throw in all the ingredients except the oil, salt, and pepper. Blitz until the mixture is mostly broken down. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until well blended. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!
Pesto pasta recipes
Make the most out of a storecupboard essential with these easy pesto pasta recipes. Make a homemade batch or use up a jar with spaghetti and penne.
This leafy green cabbage-like vegetable is a genuine superfood - it's great whizzed up in place of basil in an Italian sauce
Easy pesto lasagne
This vegetarian bake from reader Lucy Nanor is packed with spinach and peas along with creamy pesto and mascarpone sauce
Pick & mix pesto pasta salad bar
Put out all the ingredients for classic pasta salad with pesto dressing and let the kids pick whatever they like to stir in – it's great for fussy eaters
Easy pesto pasta
This supper couldn't be easier. Make our filling pesto pasta recipe for a quick, family-friendly dish you can throw together with storecupboard ingredients
Whizz up delicious homemade pesto in under 15 minutes using just five ingredients. This herby Italian-style sauce is great stirred through pasta for a quick meal
Carrot Top Pesto
Carrots are delicious, nutritious, and can be used in many ways – and so are their bright green tops. Don’t throw those away!
Carrot tops, like the tops of many other root veggies, can be used in similar ways that you use other leafy greens – salads, sauteed, pureed into a sauce. Has anyone tried to make carrot top chips? Hm, the leaves are probably too small and will turn out as crumbs, but it might be something I have to try at some point.
It is very true that here in California, that we can be a bit spoiled when it comes to food, especially produce. We have the farmer’s market every week (except the winter, but then we travel to the next city over and go to their humongous one) and I belong to a CSA-type program where instead of a box of produce showing up at my door, I go to the farm and pick everything myself. This is something that Paxton and I share. We both learn more about where our food comes from, how it grows, meet great new people, and of course, get the freshest possible produce.
This past week, we got to dig up our own carrots (Paxton proved better at this than I was), I noticed that others had pulled off the greens and left them scattered amongst the other carrots still waiting in the ground. So I picked them up and added them to my bunch.
This pesto came together in just minutes (good thing too, because we were hungry!). I probably had about 2 bunches of carrot tops from all the extras I picked up that others had discarded, so I doubled the batch.
I ended up drizzling this on top of fried eggs, homemade herbed buttermilk biscuits, quickly sauteed breakfast radishes, and strawberries, topped with fresh dill. All of the produce and herbs had been picked fresh just a couple of hours before.
Herby spinach lentil stew with broccoli steaks and spelt flatbreads
I made this delicious herby spinach lentil stew last week when the sky was grey and I needed some delicious soul soothing comfort food.
This glorious green stew completely hit the spot – green lentils, courgette, spinach and lots of lovely thyme. A squeeze of lemon for freshness and dollop of coconut yogurt for richness..
As the stew is quite earthy I like to add a fresh and creamy mint coconut dip which melts into the warm stew.
As I had some broccoli which needed using up so I thought it would be the perfect addition, roasted with some oil and sea salt until crispy. Delicious! But don’t worry if you don’t want to add this – the stew is fantastic on its own.
The fluffy spelt flatbreads soak up at the stew juices but any fresh bread would be perfect.
- Spelt flour – One of my favourites. But this would be great with quality plain, wholemeal or rye.
- Lentils – I used green lentils here. You can swap for Puy, brown or mung beans.
- Coconut yogurt/cream – Works brilliantly to add creaminess but you can also use any thick and creamy plantbased yogurt or oat cream
I really hope you love this delicious dish as much as I do make sure to post and tag with @rebelrecipes #rebelrecipes if you make this dish so I can see and repost your gorgeous creations!
Now let’s add a twist…
Pesto is incredibly versatile (if you’re not overly concerned with authenticity) and this classic format has been adapted time and time again to change up the nuts, herbs, and cheese. My favorite thing to do is add vegetables to pesto, transforming the texture of the sauce, making it healthier, and bulking it out to make or a more substantial bowl of pasta. Below I have compiled the ultimate list of veggie pesto recipes – homemade pesto in every color!
What is pesto?
Pesto is a classic, uncooked sauce that originated in Genoa, Italy. It’s got a bright, fresh-tasting flavor that’s used as a sauce for pasta, chicken, fish, pizza and sandwiches.
What’s in pesto sauce?
Classic pesto sauce includes the following ingredients:
The glory of pesto sauce is that it’s extremely versatile — you can make it with whatever you have on hand. That includes any type of greens, herbs and vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli and even sun dried tomatoes.
The options are endless, and this round up is full of different pesto recipes for you to try!
How to make pesto sauce
Pesto sauce may be made using a mortar and pestle. In fact, the Italian meaning for the word pesto is “pounded”.
I prepared pesto using the mortar and pestle method in cooking school on the first day for our soup au pistou, which is basically Provence’s version of minestrone soup topped with pesto.
See this post how to make pesto with a mortar and pestle if you’re interested in trying it.
Mortar and pestle pesto sauce is amazing, but I prefer to prepare my pesto in a food processor because it’s so much easier.
To prepare pesto in your food processor, simply add everything but the oil into your food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the oil through the feed tube with the processor on until it reaches the desired consistency.
Adjust the seasoning and it’s ready to go!
See my post How to Make Pesto Sauce for more details and variations!
What is pesto used for?
Pesto is so versatile and can be used as a sauce, marinade or condiment for:
- grain bowls
- roasted vegetables
- sandwiches and wraps
- pasta salad
- potato salad
- chicken salad
- caprese salad
- cheese boards
- stuffed mushrooms
There’s no wrong answer when it comes to pesto sauce, which is why it’s a staple in my kitchen.
My meal prep routine includes making a batch of pesto and storing it in the fridge or freezer so that I can quickly throw a delicious, healthy meal together in no time.
I hope these homemade pesto recipes inspire you to make pesto a staple in your kitchen too!
Tips and substitutions for this recipe
Use a food processor to chop the carrot tops. You want a very fine mince on the greens, and a food processor can do the job quickly and efficiently. It’s also fine to use it for the tomatoes and/or carrots, but be careful of over processing. It’s easy to turn tomatoes into soup quickly with a food processor!
Use parsley instead of the carrot tops. If you don’t have whole carrots, simply use parsley instead of the carrot tops. In regular grocery stores, the greens usually aren’t included since they are highly perishable. You’ll need two large bunches of either flat leaf or curly parsley.
Use one chopped cucumber instead of carrots. If you’re not a fan of chopped carrots, a cucumber will do the trick, and is what you’ll find more often in tabbouleh salad. After you chop it, put it in a strainer, along with the tomatoes, and allow them to drain while you prepare the rest of the dish to avoid a soupy tabbouleh!
Use couscous, rice, or another whole grain instead of bulgur. Bulgur is the traditional grain used in tabbouleh, but any other whole grain would also be delicious. Small grains work best.
If you make this Carrot Top Tabbouleh, let me know in the comments! And consider making my Falafel Spiced Roasted Chickpeas or Basic Pantry Hummus to go with it!