I was at the Letterkenny Artisan Market again this weekend and managed walk away from the Ballyholey Farm stand looking like a tree.
I got rainbow carrots, Brussel sprouts still on the stalk, some beautiful looking onions, and celery (my favourite snack).
According to Ballyholey Farm horticulturist, Gareth Austin, the big luscious green carrot tops do more than just make the carrots look pretty. You can eat them! Himself and the Ballyholey Farmer, John Graham, mentioned something about having carrot-top pesto in a restaurant in town and I was intrigued. So, I did some research, and experimented a bit, and I am happy to say that it was one of my more successful experiments.
I’m used to having pasta with pesto as a sauce, but I didn’t want a big heavy meal, so, I thought: why not spiralise the carrots that the carrot tops came on and make a whole meal out of the one vegetable!
However my spiraliser had kicked the bucket the week before and not many people have spiralisers anyway so I just used a potato peeler to make carrot ribbons instead. There’s not many people who don’t have a potato peeler in their kitchen so this is definitely doable for anyone.
And as you already know I only eat plant-based foods so there are no nasty, unhealthy, cholesterol laden animal products in this pesto (traditional pesto has Parmesan or Pecorino cheese in it).
As well as animal products I decided not to use any oil either! I definitely don’t want to promote oil as it is so unhealthy. So instead I used avocado and a splash of water.
Obviously if you don’t care about your arteries you can use oil, but, for optimum health avoid it at all costs.
I ate this raw but you can easily heat up the pesto in a hot pan and stir in the carrot ribbons if you want something more warming. Raw food has all the enzymes intact so technically it is healthier than cooked. But I’m really not that pernickity.
For the Pesto
A bunch of carrot tops (tough stems removed)
65g Pumpkin seeds
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
7/8 Fresh Basil leaves
Black pepper and salt (optional – I did NOT use salt but I don’t crave salt anymore so my taste buds are different to most peoples…)
For the Pasta
4 Carrots (I used rainbow carrots)
A good blender or a food processor
A spiralizer or a potato peeler
- Cut your carrot tops off your carrots. Remove any brown bits and thick coarse stalks and wash them thoroughly.Put them into a food processor.
2. Squeeze your lemon and remove the pips from the lemon juice.
3.Add the lemon juice to the food processor and whizz it all up.
4.While that is being blitzed up you could crush your garlic using a garlic crusher,or just dice it up nice and fine.
5. When the carrot tops and lemon juice have been ground down to look like what my boyfriend said: “you’d find in a lawnmower”, then you can add in the rest of your ingredients.
6. Scoop the avocado flesh out of its skin and add that, as well as the pumpkin seeds, the crushed garlic, and the basil leaves.
7. Whizz it all up again. It should all form a thick paste once every element is blended together. To give it a lighter consistency I just poured some water down the spout of the food processor. This loosens it and helps it blend, as well as giving it a more saucy texture. (If you think it needs salt or pepper add it in)
Once you get the consistency you want from the pesto it is ready to go.
8. Now peel and wash as many carrots as you think you’ll need. We used 4 between the two of us but it was only a starter portion as we had a veggie stew to eat as well!
9. Still using the peeler, into a large bowl, peel the carrots into thin ribbons to use as a kind of “spaghetti”.
10. When it’s all done you can mix as much pesto as you need into the pasta in the large bowl and have it raw.
11. Serve with a little basil leaf on top for the prettiness factor.
PS. If you want it warm, heat as much pesto up in a pan as you need and add in the carrot ribbons and stir it all through until it is all heated up. Serve immediately if serving warm.