Vibrant Carrot Top Pesto

The Vegetable:
 I know, I know, carrots again. But they're so versatile, and we're talking about carrot TOPS, which are a whole different ingredient to their roots. The feathery plumes that top young bunches are far too good to toss out. 
Carrots are in the same family as parsley, and their greens have reminiscent hints, along with earthy carroty flavours. Carrot leaves have about six times the Vitamin C of their root counterpart, so are a nice little immune booster, too. Plus it's just great to use an entire plant from roots to shoots without waste!
Carrot Top Pesto recipe Created by Elena Keir of Naked Cakes & Wholefoods

The Dish:
I spied those sweet baby carrots as soon as I opened the box bearing the weeks worth of organic vegetable bounty. And it took me about 30 seconds to crunch into one, smelling of spring and fresh dirt.

In order to keep my carrot roots lively, I chop off the greens, as they'll continue to draw out water and I'd be left with wilted, sad bunches. Instead of composting those greens, I rinse them well and separate the tougher stems (you could keep those, too, for soup stock). 

A further rummage through the box yielded spinach and parsley, and a springy green pesto was born. This tangy take on pesto is a new twist on an old classic, always delicious but particularly great before the warmer months of basil.
 
Ingredients:
1 bunch Carrot Tops
1/2 bunch Parsley
1/4 bunch Spinach
2 clove Garlic 
85 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
40g mix Pumpkin and Sunflower Seed
Salt, to taste
Juice of 1 Lemon


Method:
Chop greens away from the roots. Rinse well, and then dry. Separate the feathery leaves from the stem; you're using the leafy part, as the stems can be tough and stringy once whizzed in a food processor.
In the bowl of a food processor place carrot tops, parsley, spinach, garlic, olive oil, seeds, salt, and lemon juice. Blend into a paste, stopping as needed to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Taste, add salt as desired to taste. If the mix is too fibrous or dry, add a further few glugs of olive oil; the more olive oil the better when it comes to pesto. 

Tidbits:
-Use as a dip alongside crackers and vegetables; top bowls of grains and beans; stir through pasta or roast   veg...
-I used a mix of sunflower and pumpkin seeds, but you could substitute cashews, walnuts, pine nuts or some combination.
-If you find raw greens are tough on your digestive system, you could quickly blanche the carrot tops and spinach first.
-No food processor or you want extra movement value? You can make this the real way; roll up your sleeves, with mortar and pestle. 
-Keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freezer for up to 3 months.

Created by Elena Keir of Naked Cakes & Wholefoods