What the *&@#%!$ Should I Do with Carrot Greens?

You've signed up for a CSA, you're loving the fresh food and its adorable box, you're cooking every night and feeling healthy doing it, maybe you're even playing a little "Eye of the Tiger" in the kitchen as time whips by in an energized, excited frenzy of cooking local ingredients, and then screeeeeeeeech. You open up your fridge and are confronted with an abundance of carrot greens. The carrots they were once attached to have been dispatched successfully, but the greens remain.

Use them: Carrot tops aren't just compost. They're rich in potassium and vitamin K. Like parsley, they're packed full of chlorophyll, shown to combat bad breath—some have even suggested juicing carrot greens and making homemade mouthwash, though we opt for chewing on a sprig, country-style. They taste very similar to parsley, a little sweeter with a slightly bitter finish. Joe Ogrodnek, executive chef of Anella in Brooklyn, recommends flash-frying the leaves for a beautiful garnish.

Try a few of these other options. Put that Survivor CD back on. Wash the carrot greens, pick them off of the woody stalk (just like you would parsley), and:

1. Chop and mix into coucous or rice dishes.
2. Garnish soups with a few hand-picked leaves.
3. Fry and scatter over your protein for a beautiful and delicate splash of green.
4. Add to finely chopped tarragon, dill, parsley, and thyme in an herb vinaigrette before dressing a salad.
5. Juice and add to other fruit and veggie juices for some extra potassium (balance out the bitterness with honey).
6. Simmer them in broth.

Or cook them up in one of these recipes.

Carrot-top Cilantro Honey Pesto
2 cups tightly packed cilantro leaves
2 cups tightly packed carrot tops
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons toasted walnuts
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal brand)
1 teaspoon of honey
1/3 cup olive oil
Place everything but the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. With the motor running, add oil in a steady stream until all ingredients are evenly incorporated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and process until smooth. Use on pasta, meats, or crostini, topped with a roasted or sundried tomato.

Chickpea, Carrot, and Carrot-Green salad
2 (14 ounce) cans of chickpeas, drained
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup carrot greens, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely minced
Juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients, and let sit one hour, covered in the fridge, so that the flavors mix and develop. Taste and adjust seasonings before serving.

Please comment and let us know how you use your carrot greens. Don't be ashamed to tell us you use carrot top juice in place of Listerine. We think you're brave.

Image source: Flickr member color line under Creative Commons