I’ve been giving more thought to the saying “waste not, want not” these days although perhaps not in the manner in which it is intended. The pondering is not driven by a monetary factor (although it never hurts to save a dime) but is more about the merit of that which is being discarded. With this consideration on my mind, I recently repurposed a syrup in a batch of Nectarine Basil Mojitos. It worked out deliciously although I’m not sure the idea of combining a fruity concoction with alcohol is exactly ground breaking.
My friend and chef, Jay Henry, cooked a fabulous dinner for us this summer that featured a carrot top pesto component in one of the dishes. Now that is less obvious – at least to me – and I really liked the results because often I find basil pesto to be too strong. The addition of these unexpected greens mellowed the sauce so that it complemented instead of overpowered.
As I was pulling fresh carrots from the garden the other day, that pesto was on my mind. I was having a dinner party and looking for something seasonal that would have a touch of the unexpected (everyone expects there to be tomatoes and zucchini this time of year). These roasted carrots were just perfect. Colorful, elegant in a rustic kind of way, and most importantly, delicious.
This recipe made plenty of the pesto and I am enjoying the jar of it in the fridge. A girlfriend was over the other night and one glass of wine turned into two and the late night munchies hit. A scavenge in the fridge yielded the ingredients for mini grilled cheese with fresh mozzarella, ciabatta, garden-picked tomatoes and a swipe of this pesto. It topped brie another night along with pine nuts, capers and dried tomatoes that was heated on the grill until gooey and served on crackers for friends at an outdoor concert. And that was just this week. I can only imagine that the possibilities are endless… and I fully plan to enjoy discovering more of them.
Roasted Carrots with Carrot-Top Pesto
Adapted from Bon Appétit
3 lbs small carrots with tops (multi-colored ones make for a beautiful presentation)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove
3 Tbsp pecans
1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400°. Trim carrot tops, leaving some stem attached. Measure out 2 cups carrot tops and set aside; reserve any remaining carrot tops for another use.
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 purée forms. Add olive oil and pulse until combined; season with salt and pepper. Serve carrots with pesto.
DO AHEAD: 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.
8 servings, 1 serving equals: Calories (kcal) 270 Fat (g) 21 Saturated Fat (g) 3.5 Cholesterol (mg) 5 Carbohydrates (g) 18 Dietary Fiber (g) 5 Total Sugars (g) 11 Protein (g) 4 Sodium (mg) 210