A while back, we published an article on how to repuspose carrot peelings. Why throw them out, when you can turn them into something delicious, packed with nutrients?
The same is true with the leafy green carrot tops (photo #1).
Why buy freshly-harvested carrots at the farmers market, only to cut off and toss the glorious, frilly leaves?
If you don’t want to eat the tops, stems and leaves yourself, at least find the nearest neighbor with a bunny, gerbil or hamster (or, a home cook who loves to make soup).
Today’s focus is those lovely, leafy carrot tops.
First off: There is a long-circulating myth that carrot tops are poisonous. They are not poisonous!
Some people are allergic to carrot tops, just as some are allergic to avocado, corn, eggs, even red meat.
While some vegetable parts are toxic*, especially if eaten raw, enjoy carrot tops raw or cooked to your heart’s content. Here’s a longer explanation.
Ready To Cook With Carrot Tops?
Think of carrot tops as parsley or dill: Use them in the same way.
Carrot tops have a very concentrated carrot flavor with a bit of bitterness. If you don’t like the bitterness, blanch them for a moment.
Chimichurri is the national sauce (salsa) of Argentina. Very popular with steak (Argentina’s national protein as it were), it is made from parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, vinegar and red pepper flakes.
Gremolata is a popular Italian condiment for meat, fish and other foods: the bitterness of parsley with the bright acidity of lemon and the zestiness of garlic. You can substite other bitter herbs…or carrot tops.
Harissa is both a flavor enhancer and a condiment. In Tunisia, Morocco and across North Africa, harissa flavors almost all of the local cuisine.
It’s main ingredient is hot chiles, but in this recipe, carrot tops are added in to create a carrot soup garnish (it could be any thick purée or creamy soup).
Add even more nutrition to the popular dip and spread, which people have been enjoying since the 12th century or earlier (the history of hummus).
 Such lovely greens: How can you throw them away? Photo courtesy Naturally Ella. See her recipe for gremolata.
5. Pesto Sauce
Substitute the carrot leaves for basil or other herb. The stems are tougher, but when ground into a pesto they work well.
Consider combining the carrot leaves with basil, spinach, arugula or other green.
You can snip raw carrot tops into any green salad, or use them to add flavor to a protein salad (chicken, egg, tuna, etc.) instead of dill or celery leaves.
Dress your green salad or bean salad with them: Add minced carrot tops to your vinaiagrette (we especially like them with a Dijon vinaigrette).
In these two recipes, a chickpea salad is an ideal host for carrot greens. You can do the same with a bean salad: three bean, green bean, etc.
Broccoli rabe, collards, kale, mustard greens: Any greens can be sautéed with carrot tops and garlic in olive oil.
Add the carrot greens along with lettuce, or instead of it. We frequently use arugula, spinach, basil or watercress instead of lettuce. The carrot tops fit right in.
They also have a place on a sandwich or burger without lettuce: with a sliced of tomato, pimento or sundried tomatoes in olive oil.
Add carrot tops for flavor. You can even make a carrot top soup!
*Raw kidney beans, lima beans, rhubarb leaves; stone fruit pits; apple seeds; and others. Most will just make you ill, but can kill people with compromised systems. The worst is unprocessed cassava. “One pound of bitter, unproccessed cassava will kill a cow and has killed humans in the past,” says an article on the topic.
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