Carrot Top and Garlic Scape Pesto

June 11, 2015(updated on August 30, 2021)

carrot tops

I go to at least one farmers market a week during the growing season. My primary reason for going is to buy delicious produce from kind people, but I’m also always on the lookout for something extra and interesting. I don’t to just want to come home with things to cook for dinner (though that is a necessary element). My eyes are also scanning the stands, looking for something that will either activate my culinary imagination or give me the opportunity to make a recipe that I have mentally bookmarked.

carrot tops in fp

When I spotted these carrots, they triggered memories of two recipes I’d long wanted to try. First, they brought to mind this recipe that Alana posted on Eating From the Ground Up last fall. I’d been meaning to try that pesto ever since I’d first read her tale of those special Woven Roots Farm carrots, but hadn’t come across really great looking greens. And those sweet little carrots? They were destined to become Amanda’s fermented gingery pickles.

toasted pistachios

This bundle of carrots was the last one in a bin marked $3. That might seem like a lot for a small cluster of carrots, but knowing the plans I had for the greens, it ended up feeling like a bargain. The vendor did ask if I wanted the greens removed, but the horror on my face stopped her before my words even reached her ears.

finished carrot top pesto full

I will confess that I paused a bit before deciding to write about this batch of pesto. I published a similar recipe using stinging nettles not too long ago and I didn’t want you all to feel like this blog was becoming all pesto, all the time. But truly, I am a lover of these bright, nutty, herbaceous pastes and make them all summer, with the goal of having about a dozen little green jars in the freezer before the first frost comes.

finished carrot top pesto

I find that having a small stash of homemade pestos in my freezer is one of the easiest ways to avoid ordering takeout. I don’t just use them for dressing pasta, either. A solo dinner of sauteed kale, a scoop of a warm grain like millet, and a generous dollop of pesto and I’m a happy girl. They’re good on top of simple soups. And a batch thinned out with a little vinegar, water and a touch more olive oil and you have a very delicious vinaigrette.

5 from 1 vote

Carrot Top and Garlic Scape Pesto


  • 2 cups packed carrot greens
  • 3 ounces chopped garlic scapes About 4-5 curly scapes. If you don't have scapes, use 2 large peeled cloves instead
  • 1/2 cup toasted pistachios
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3-4 turns of a pepper mill


  • Rinse the greens and pick out big stems, blades of grass, and any leaves that have started to turn brown.
  • Put the greens in the food processor and pulse 5 to 6 times, until they are tamed a bit.
  • Add the garlic scapes, pistachios, and lemon juice and run the processor motor until the nuts begin to disappear into the greenness.
  • With the motor running, stream in 1/4 cup olive oil. Stop motor and scrape down the walls of the bowl and run some more. If the pesto looks very dry, add remaining oil.
  • Add salt and pepper and pulse to combine.
  • Taste and add more salt, pepper or lemon juice, should you deem it necessary.
  • To freeze this pesto, pack it into small jars. I like wide mouth half pints, but the tiny quarter pint jars also work nicely.
  • Fill the jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. Top the pesto with a very fine layer of olive oil. This will prevent the pesto from discoloring or developing surface freezer burn.

Sharing is caring!

5 from 1 vote

Leave a comment & rate this recipe

If you enjoy this recipe, please do give it a star rating when you post a comment. Star ratings help people discover my recipes. Thank you!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

23 thoughts on "Carrot Top and Garlic Scape Pesto"

  • Thanks for mentioning that pesto can be frozen. I did it for the first time a few weeks ago and was hoping the oil wouldn’t go rancid, separate, or otherwise ruin the pesto.

  • I would have thought that would be horribly bitter. Apparently not, maybe I will give it a try!
    Do you discard the stems?

  • Thanks for this post! I love pesto – and have been wanting to try making my own – especially after seeing your previous post on it! I was curious about the specificity of the type of nut – so this post is valuable for me! 🙂 I have lots of pistachios on hand – I’m assuming that it would be OK to swap nuts even if I’m not using carrot tops. I have some scapes from our CSA and lemon basil that is growing like mad and would love to whip of a small batch. Any reason I shouldn’t make those swaps?

    1. Just about any herb or nut will work in a batch of pesto. I suggest starting with small batches to see if you like the combinations you’re making, and if you do, scale up!

      1. Awesome! I just put the lids on a batch! It’s quite the mash up – mostly basil- mix of Thai, Lemon and Pesto Basil; but those leaves don’t take up as much volume as I thought they would, so there’s also some savory (very peppery) and a little kale – figured with the strong flavorings of the others that it wouldn’t scream “I’m super healthy b/c I’m KALE!”
        It tastes great! Thanks so much! We’ll be enjoying it on the last couple of spaghetti squash.

  • There’s nothing wrong with all pesto all the time! In fact, there are a lot of things right about it. 🙂 This sounds great! I’ll have to keep it in mind for our next CSA carrot bunch.

  • Thank you for the pesto recipe I have been freezing basil pesto for a few years, with olive oil on top to prevent browning, but have never thought to think outside the box like you did with the carrot tops.
    I will definitely keep that in mind.
    Question, where do you get, and who makes, wide mouth half pints?
    I am a newbie to your blog after buying your book, PRESERVING BY THE PINT, which I adore.

    1. The wide mouth half pints bear the Kerr brand, but are made by Ball canning. I typically get them wherever jars are sold.

  • I love pestos. What lids do you use when freezing? Do you use regular lids and bands or the plastic ones? I’m not sure which would be easiest/best… thanks!

    1. I typically use the two piece lids and rings. In this case, you can use lids that have already been used once, because you’re not actually trying to seal them onto the jars.

  • Saved!! I had asked on the hotline on food 52 a few years back about using the carrot tops and was (sadly and incorrectly) told that they are poisonous. All those greens I tossed 🙁

  • I made carrot top pesto for the first time earlier this spring and thought it was great. I think the recipe I used was from the Roots cookbook. I remember reading somewhere else about blanching the carrot greens first to reduce bitterness. Have you ever tried that? I wasn’t sure if it was worth the extra step, or if it would mess up the final texture of the pesto.
    Thanks for the recipe! I’m totally with you on making sure there’s an ample supply of pesto in the freezer.

  • 5 stars
    Amazing recipe! I wasn’t expecting it to taste this amazing, thank you for sharing! Also thank you for the pointers to remove stems and how to freeze. Much appreciated!!