I like using everything and reducing waste. When you buy a bunch of carrots, they come with the greens, but usually those are discarded or used to feed the rabbits if you have them. I’ve already posted recipes to use parts that are usually discarded, such as asparagus ends, the greens from radishes, or shrimp heads and shells. Then I saw a post by Marina Baccos about spaghetti with pesto made from carrot tops: Spaghetti con Pesto alle Foglie di Carota. So far I had always discarded carrot greens, mainly because I worry about pesticides that are used on the greens. But thanks to Marina’s post, I decided to get a bunch of organic carrots to make a vegetarian pasta dish. The carrot greens have a very ‘green’ flavor. I included the carrots themselves, which turned out to be a great idea, as the sweetness of the roasted carrots worked very well with the ‘green’ flavor of the pesto. To make it even more nutritious, I used wholewheat penne pasta. In my experience, the texture of wholewheat spaghetti isn’t very good, but wholewheat short pasta is pretty good. Marina, ti ringrazio per l’ispirazione! Here’s what I did…
For 2 servings
1 bunch carrots with greens
150 grams (.33 lb) penne pasta, preferably wholewheat
20 grams (2 Tbsp) pistachios
extra virgin olive oil
freshly grated pecorino cheese
Roasting the carrots brings out their flavor. Preheat the oven to 225C/440F. Peel the carrots, cut them in quarters lengthwise, and in pieces that are roughly the size of the pasta. (Click here to read about matching pasta shapes with pasta sauces.) Put the carrots in an oven dish and toss them with some olive oil until they are coated with the oil.
Roast the carrots at 225C/440F until they are tender and starting to catch, about 30-45 minutes. Stir them every 15 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, select the best looking carrot greens and separate the tender leaves from the tough stalks. You will need about 50-60 grams (2 oz) of the leaves.
Wash the carrot greens at least once, but more times if needed, and spin them dry.
Put the carrot greens in the blender together with 20 grams of pistachios, salt, and about 60 ml (1/4 cup) good quality extra virgin olive oil.
Blend until smooth, adding more olive oil as needed.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. When the water boils, add salt and the pasta. Cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions. Combine the pesto in a dish with about 30 grams (1 oz) of freshly grated pecorino cheese. Add about 60 ml (1/4 cup) of the pasta cooking water…
…and stir to mix. This loosens up the pesto to mix it with the pasta.
When the pasta is done, drain and add to the carrots in the roasting tray together with the pesto.
Toss to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.
Serve on preheated plates, garnished with some more freshly grated pecorino.
This works well with a white that has a pleasant ‘green’ flavor, such as a Godello (from Valdeorras in Spain), a Friulano (from Friuli in Italy), or a Verdejo (from Rueda in Spain). A Sauvignon Blanc that is ‘green’, such as from the San Antonio Valley in Chile, would also be a good choice.
An appropriate flashback for today is eggplant dumplings with shrimp, which was also inspired by Marina.