Recipe: Carrot Top Pesto

Post By Olivia Martino, Registered Dietitian and Co-Owner, Nourish Northwest

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We are often asked what our nutrition philosophy is.  We’ve got a long answer to this question, but the short one is two simple words: whole foods.  This means eating the food as it is present in nature to ensure you are consuming all vital nutrients and minimizing unnecessary food additives.  This concept is also healthy on an environmental level by helping to reduce food waste.

To determine whether something is a whole food, we ask ourselves four questions:

Can you imagine it growing?

How many ingredients does it have?

What has been done to it since it has been harvested?

Are all edible parts present?

This last question is where things can get tricky.  Paula recently did a presentation to a group of high schoolers and this is where they were stumped.  They could easily determine that a candy bar was not a whole food and an apple was.  But when Paula pulled up a picture of a beet, not a single person guessed correctly, as they unanimously answered that a beet was indeed a whole food.

The trick was that the beet greens were not present in the picture.  This is often the case when you purchase beets in a grocery store.  The same goes for carrots.  The greens are often removed and tossed away (hopefully in the compost!).  However, the greens are very much edible, actually they are delicious, and they contain very high amounts of important nutrients, such as iron, vitamin K and calcium.

Last week I was checking out at the grocery store and the person in front of me was purchasing a bunch of carrots, with the greens still on them.  The cashier asked the customer if they wanted the greens.  The customer did not and even thanked the clerk for removing them so she did not have to deal with it at home.  I asked the cashier if they were going to get rid of the greens and if so if I could have them.  She happily gave them to me and I couldn’t believe my luck.  I just scored some free nutritious food. Hence, here is my recipe for my favorite kind of pesto:

Carrot Top Pesto

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Ingredients:

1/4 cup walnuts, toasted

1 bunch of carrot greens, washed very well

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/4-1/2 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

*optional ingredients: fresh basil, parmesan cheese

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Preparation

1. In a food processor, grind nuts to a fine meal.  Add greens,  lemon juice, garlic, basil and/or cheese, if using.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2.  Start food processor and drizzle olive oil in slowly, until you reach a consistency you like.  Some people prefer a chunkier pesto, while others like a thinner product.  Scrape the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula to combine all ingredients and taste for salt and pepper.

3.  Store in an airtight container for up to a week.  Use as a spread across toast, a dollop on eggs, a drizzle over a veggie bowl or toss with pasta.

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