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New To Carrot Tops? This Pesto Is A Good Place To Start

Yes, you can eat the tops on carrots! This pesto recipe helps you use up greens that you might normally throw in the compost.

ingredients for carrot top pesto

Pesto is a simple ratio of ingredients, which makes substitutions easy.

“You can use almost any leafy vegetable for the basil, you can use almost any form of acid for the lemon juice, any form of nut for the pine nuts,” says Chef Arlyn Llewellyn of Function Brewing.

Not Your Basic Pesto

She got the idea to use carrot tops in a pesto from farmer Jim Baughman of Freedom Valley Farm.

“We were talking to him about carrots, and he said, ‘Do you want to do anything with the tops because I’ve got a bunch of those.’ I looked at him and he was like, ‘They make a great pesto.’ Turns out, that’s a whole thing, but I didn’t know anything about that,” she says.

Yes, you can eat carrot greens!

She made some other substitutions for this recipe — aged gouda instead of Parmesan cheese and cashews instead of pine nuts.

One Heckuva Sandwich

The sandwiches at Function are intense. There’s a lot going on in between the two slices of bread. Llewellyn has a very specific way of constructing each of the sandwiches. With the Wood Nymph Panini, the carrot top pesto goes on the bottom so it’s the first flavor to hit your tongue after you bite through the bread.

“That’s a nice thing about sandwiches,” she says. “As a chef, you can control how the customer is going to experience it, whereas if you’re putting things on a plate and they’re just diving in with a knife and fork, they may not eat it in the sequence you want them to. In a sandwich, they’re kind of forced to.”

She spread some raisin aioli on the other slice of bread; the veggies on this sandwich are roasted local carrots and braised collard greens; two types of cheese — blue cheese and havarti, “And that will seal the deal.”

She puts the sandwich on a panini press for several minutes. Once she hears the sizzle and sees the cheese oozing out from the sides, she knows it’s ready.

But before we bite into this monstrosity, she lets it rest. “Right now that bottom piece of bread is super hot so if you put it on a flat surface, it’s going to steam up against the plate and the bottom piece will be soggy,” she says. “We put it on that resting rack for a couple minutes to lose the most intense heat before we cut it and put it on a plate.”

Carrot Top Pesto


  • 10 ounces carrot tops, chopped into 1" segments
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 5 ounces aged gouda
  • 7.5 ounces toasted cashews (5 minutes at 375-degrees, allow to cool before proceeding)
  • 10 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 2/3 cups olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper


  1. Add carrot tops, garlic, gouda and cashews to a food processor. Pulse until combined.
  2. Then add lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. Pulse until combined.
  3. I suggest spreading some of this pesto on a sandwich. Enjoy!

See what else is on the menu at Function Brewing (Bloomington, Indiana)

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