By Alicia Ghio
At the beginning of February, Holbrook Farm in Bethel, CT opened for the season and we jumped at the chance to stock up on fresh produce. There’s more available than you would think at this time of year. By growing in greenhouses, Holbrook has a bountiful supply of greens in addition to carrots, onions and potatoes.
There is nothing better than farm-fresh, just picked carrots. The flavor is so much more floral than the ones from the grocery store. I grabbed a big bag of them not just for the root, but also for the leaves on top.
Over the years, there have been rumors that carrot tops are poisonous. Not true. They are edible and in fact, full of vitamins and minerals. They have an herby taste, somewhat like parsley, but a bit more bitter. You can eat carrot tops raw or cooked. Since the carrots I picked up at Holbrook were so fresh, I decided to keep them raw and make a quick pesto. Instead of putting the pesto over pasta, I spooned it over grilled chicken breasts for a lean, healthy dinner.
Carrot Top Pesto
- 3-½ cups fresh carrot leaves, stems removed
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt, to taste
- To toast the pumpkin seeds, spread them out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; place in preheated 350-degree Fahrenheit oven and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
- In a food processor, combine the carrot leaves, garlic, toasted pumpkin seeds and salt. Process until finely minced. With the food processor on, stream in the olive oil until well combined.
- Pour into a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the grated Parmesan.
- Serve at room temperature.