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Do You Want Your Carrot Tops?

Do You Want Your Carrot Tops?

If you have ever shopped at a farmer’s market and purchased a bunch of carrots, you may have been asked this question by the farmer about to hand you over your purchase: “Do you want the tops?” While I haven’t done the statistical research, I would venture to guess that most people would say “no.” I mean, why would you, as they are likely to just wilt in the fridge, or go straight into the compost bin or garbage. They are bushy, unwieldy and you certainly can’t or wouldn’t want to eat them.

Well, as it turns out, those leafy green carrot tops are not without utility, and certainly not without nutritional value, and guess what… you can eat them. I had heard rumblings about carrot top pesto some years ago, but sadly never had the follow through to actually try it. Now comes along cookbook author Diane Morgan and her late winter book, Roots: The Definitive Compendium. In this book about tubers and roots, Morgan waxes enthusiastic about the overlooked carrot top for its pesto potential (see recipe here). Although they could be quite bitter (it is rumored that carrot tops made up the bitter greens served at the first Passover in ancient Egypt) if you balance the flavors with buttery olive oil, pine nuts, and good Parmesan cheese, you will easily create something worth spreading on bread or tossing with pasta. All of which is far better than just tossing them out (here is some additional info about eating and preparing carrot tops, just in case pesto is not your thing.)

Have you ever tried cooking with carrot tops? Are they too bitter to gain acceptance into your cooking repertoire, or interesting enough to replace something like arugula or bitter greens?

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


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7:21PM PDT on Jul 8, 2014


7:21PM PDT on Jul 8, 2014


7:21PM PDT on Jul 8, 2014


8:27PM PDT on Apr 23, 2013

I use the tops in the in vegetable and chicken stock. Have tried eating just them, and can't. Probably because I'm not use to it, but I do use them. I haven't tried carrot top pesto, should try.

1:42AM PDT on Apr 11, 2013

Thanks for the article! Carrot top or "leaf" tea is really delicious. All you do is steep the tops in hot water, mix in sugar and lemon juice to taste, then chill. Delicious! If the tea is too strong, dilute with more water. It is important to serve this chilled, it's really good.

11:12PM PDT on Mar 28, 2013 chickens usually get mine!

2:33PM PDT on Mar 24, 2013

thanks for the good info. Carrots are yummy!!!!

11:30AM PDT on Mar 24, 2013


5:05AM PDT on Mar 24, 2013

I love carrots.

5:00AM PDT on Mar 24, 2013


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