I’m finally willing to admit that it’s fall. I have to wear boots, accessorizing with a scarf is now more functional than aesthetic, and the heat from the oven pleasantly warms my chilly apartment. That means it’s time for me to roast again – starting with carrots. I’ll move on to winter squash when I’ve given up all hope of warm weather.
The carrots I grew up with tasted like the cello bag they were stuffed in. But farmers market carrots are completely different. The natural sugars caramelize when roasted – no glaze of cornstarch and refined sugar needed. The skin is nearly the same texture as the tender body so a good scrub replaces peeling. And finally, instead of a blackened knob at top, there is a wonderful bouquet of greens with each bunch.
You should remove the carrot tops right away so they don’t pull moisture from the taproot, but the greenery is, despite some contention, edible. I found a way to keep them from becoming food waste that doubles as a condiment for just about everything. The dainty fronds are delicious as a pesto where the bitterness is cut by the nutty macadamia and Parmesan. Try the pesto with the carrots and potatoes below and then have a little on everything. Before a single bunch was used up I had pesto for eggs, tomatoes, toast, pasta and steaks. How’s that for a naturally free add-on?
Roasted Carrots and Potatoes with Carrot Top Pesto
1 bunch fresh carrots with tops
1 pound red potatoes
2 cups carrot tops, packed
3 tablespoons macadamia nuts or almonds
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 425°. Wash and scrub carrots and potatoes. Remove tops from carrots and slice in half lengthwise. Cut potatoes into 3/4″ cubes. Toss with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and a little dried thyme. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring and flipping once.
Toast macadamia nuts in the oven for 5 minutes to release the oils.
Wash carrot tops in a deep bowl of cold water, stirring to release grit. Lift greens out at replace water until water runs clear. Pull fronds from stems and pack to make 2 cups.
Pulse carrot tops, macadamia nuts and garlic in a food processor with the blade attachment until a paste forms. Add Parmesan and continue a few more pulses. Start processor, remove food pusher, and slowly stream olive oil while the machine is running. Season with salt and pepper.
When roasted veggies are done, toss with about 1/4 of pesto.
Pack remaining pesto in a container or jar and coat with olive oil to seal. Pesto will keep for several days and tastes good on everything!