It was not new to my awareness that carrot-top leaves are edible. I don't think I had even eaten them in a restaurant or certainly had not used the leaves in my own cooking. Their gorgeous green color and feathery fern-like leaves are attractive to the eye but sadly discarded. I was at the farmer's market and kept seeing carrots greens peeking out of the tops of other customer's market bags. This brought inspiration that I should make something with carrot leaves. Carrot-top pesto came to mind and what an awakening that was.
Pesto most commonly is thought of as being made with basil leaves. Actually, the word pesto means to pound as traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. Of course, we now have the convenience of using a food processor. Pesto can be made from many types of herbs and leaves such as kale and spinach pesto, garlic scape pesto, and even sundried tomato basil pesto.
In this recipe I use carrot leaves and parsley leaves which pair together very well. I encourage you to taste the carrot leaves on their own in comparison to the parsley leaves. Both are bitter, with the parsley leaves having a stronger punch than the carrot leaves. Using them together in a standard recipe in place of basil results in a delicious flavorful pesto. Also not surprising is the nutritional value of carrot-top leaves. They are off-the-chart in vitamin A just like the carrots themselves, and high in potassium.
Other uses for carrot-top leaves are to sauté carrots slices in olive oil adding chopped carrot leaves at the end of the cooking time finishing with a sprinkling of kosher salt or adding chopped carrot leaves to homemade soup as you would parsley leaves.
Working with a food processor, add the carrot leaves and the parsley leaves, along with the clove of garlic to the processor bowl. Pulse the contents until coarsely ground. Add in the cashews, pulsing until mostly combined. Add in half of the olive oil, pulsing to begin to make a sauce. Add in the remaining oil and the salt, processing until blended. Add in the Parmesan cheese, pulsing until just combined, not over-processing.
Serve with pasta or drizzled over crostini toasts. Also, delicious folded into scramble eggs or an omelet.
Make this tart using the recipe link above, substituting the carrot-top parsley pesto for the basil pesto.