Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto

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If you want a vibrant and colorful side dish that is healthy and also minimizes kitchen waste, these Roasted Carrots and Carrot Top Pesto are just what you’ve been looking for. They are a fabulous departure from the usual steamed carrots. If you are looking for a carrot top recipe, look no further! This recipe is the perfect introduction to cooking with carrot tops.

The Whole Carrot-

I like finding ways to reduce kitchen waste, and use all of something rather than throwing half of it away. Whether you grow your own carrots or buy them with the tops on, if you have thrown the tops away in the past, this is the time to stop doing that! With this recipe for Roasted Rainbow Carrots and Carrot Top Pesto, I am going to show you how to use it all, and only throw away a minimal amount. 

I love carrots for their versatility. They are great raw, cooked, pickled, you name it. I especially love buying them in different colors when I can find them. I can’t tell a difference in flavor, but the colors sure do make a dish pop. The best part? They stay that vibrant hue after they are cooked! 

It is important to note that if you are not going to cook this dish shortly after bringing the carrots home, that you need to cut the tops off and store them separately. If you leave the tops on, they will pull moisture out of the carrots and cause them to dry out much faster.

roasted rainbow carrots with bowl of pesto

The Carrot Top Pesto

Carrot top pesto? Oh yeah! This carrot top pesto recipe is so easy to make, and carrot tops are fantastic. They have a mild carrot-like flavor with just a hint of saltiness. This pesto makes a great accompaniment to the roasted carrots, but you don’t have to stop there. You can make a double or even triple batch of the pesto to have extra for other uses. 

It’s great tossed with pasta (hot or cold), dolloped on top of soup, or on other roasted vegetables. I have purposely used a small amount of salt here for a few reasons: first, the carrots have a little bit of salt on them already, and because the parmesan cheese itself is salty and the carrot tops themselves have a slightly salty taste.

process shot of making carrot top pesto

Carrot Top Pesto Ingredients

Carrot Tops

Try to select bunches of carrots with tops that are a vibrant dark green color that are not wilted with a lot of browned leaves. There may be little bits of brown leaves which is ok, just pull those off and don’t use them. 

You’ll need the tops from about two bunches of carrots. Most markets sell carrots with tops in bunches of five or six tied together, so you will need the tops of 10-12 carrots to get enough pesto for this recipe, and you may even have some left over.

Use just the leaves and not the stems from the tops in the pesto. It not only tastes better but the pesto will be smoother. 

Parmesan Cheese

You can use pre grated or block parmesan that you grate yourself, but use the best quality parmesan you can find. Your pesto will thank you!

If you want to make this dish vegan, you can simply leave out the cheese.

Salt and Pepper

Between the natural slight saltiness of the carrot tops and the parmesan, you really don’t need as much salt as you might think. It will overwhelm the dish if you use too much. 

Walnuts

Pine nuts are a classic pesto ingredient, but I use walnuts here because they are much easier to find and a lot more budget friendly. You can usually find them in the baking aisle of almost any grocery store. The nice thing about buying them in the baking aisle is that they are cheaper than buying them in the snack aisle, and they are unsalted.

Avocado Oil

You can certainly use another mild flavored oil here such as light olive oil or sunflower seed oil. In a pinch, you can use vegetable oil too. 

How To Make Carrot Top Pesto

Carrot Top Pesto is pretty easy to make, it is a very similar procedure to most any other type of pesto. This is easiest with a food processor. I toss in everything but the oil and get everything ground up a bit, then slowly add the oil until it makes a smooth paste. You could always add a few fresh basil leaves to this as well.

If you don’t have a food processor, I recommend getting an inexpensive one at least. They are useful for more than just making pesto. You could try using a good quality blender, but it would need to be one that can grind nuts. 

If you don’t have these options, you can use a knife to chop the carrot tops and place the nuts in a freezer bag and use a rolling pin to pulverize the nuts, then place all the ingredients in a bowl and slowly stir in the oil.

You will not get as good a result with a blender or using a rolling pin. If you don’t have a food processor I can’t say enough about how useful they are!

rainbow carrots with tops

Frequently Asked Questions

What size carrots should I use for this recipe?


Any size and diameter of carrot can be used. If they are large, you will want to cut them in half lengthwise, or even in quarters lengthwise if the carrots are really big. Once cut, they should be around a quarter of an inch thick. If you want, you can slice them into coins as well, just watch the cooking time because they will cook a bit faster than cut lengthwise.

I am unable to find rainbow carrots with the tops. Can I skip the rainbow carrots and use just  orange?

Definitely! You can also buy bagged rainbow carrots if they are available and also buy orange carrots with their tops on and use the tops only and save the orange carrots for another use. I always seem to have an abundance of carrots in my fridge, they’re great with anything!

Can this be reheated?

This reheats really well! You can even make these ahead and reheat them later if you are meal prepping. You can even make the pesto ahead of time and when you are ready to roast the carrots, just pull the pesto out of the fridge to come to room temperature while you cut and roast the carrots. 

Are there other uses for carrots tops aside from pesto?

Oh yes! I like using them in salads as an addition to other greens. You can add them to stocks as well. In fact, the carrot top stems and the carrot ends that will be left after making this dish can be saved to put in chicken or vegetable stock. 

rainbow carrots on a sheet pan
Serving Suggestions and Other Tips

I love these carrots served with a roast chicken, pork tenderloin, or pot roast. They would be a nice side to serve with my Cheeseburger Macaroni From Scratch as well. If you are a Vegetarian, these carrots would be great alongside a soup such as my Cream Of Asparagus Soup when asparagus is in season. In the Fall, it would be nice with my Risotto with Sweet Meat Squash.

Be sure to toss them in the pesto after they are done roasting. If you put the pesto on the carrots before roasting, you are almost guaranteed that your pesto will burn in the oven. No Bueno. This is why it’s important to toss the carrots in it after roasting.

The pesto can be made a day or two ahead, but save cutting the carrots for the day you cook them.

Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator tightly wrapped for up to five days. If you have extra pesto, you could save it for a pasta dish, such as a cold pasta salad or as a sauce in a hot pasta dish. It would be nice spooned on top of a bowl of soup too!

If you tried this recipe, I’d love to hear how it turned out! Just leave a rating or comment below, or take a picture and tag me @thecoppertable on Instagram, pin to a board on Pinterest or share with your friends on social media! If you have not signed up for my email newsletter, you can do that below. I have all sorts of exclusive content just for newsletter subscribers, and I’d love for you to join. Happy Cooking!

plate of rainbow carrots on a blue background
roasted rainbow carrots with bowl of pesto
Yield: 4 Servings

Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients

For the Carrots

  • 6 medium to large Rainbow Carrots
  • 1 Tbsp Avocado Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper

For the Carrot Top Pesto

  • Carrot Tops from one bunch of Carrots, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1/4 cup Walnuts
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp Black Pepper
  • 2-4 Tbsp Avocado Oil

Instructions

  1. Turn the oven on to 450 Degrees. While the oven heats, remove the tops from the carrots (if that has not already been done earlier) and set aside for the pesto. Cut the carrots lengthwise in half, thirds, or in quarters depending on the size of the carrots. They should be about a quarter of an inch thick after being cut.
  2. Place the carrots on a baking sheet and toss with 1 Tbsp avocado oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Place carrots in the oven and bake for 30 to 45 minutes until a fork easily pierces the thickest part of the carrots, being sure to stir them around every ten minutes or so during cooking.
  3. While the carrots roast, remove the leaves of the carrot tops from their stems, and either discard stems or save for using in stock.
  4. Place all pesto ingredients except the oil into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to break things up a little. Then, with the food processor running, slowly add the oil until it makes a thick paste. It should take around 2 to 4 Tbsp of oil to achieve the desired consistency.
  5. Once the carrots are roasted and out of the oven, toss with the pesto to coat and serve.

Notes

If there is extra pesto remaining, it can be saved to toss with pasta or add a spoonful to a bowl of soup.

Be sure to remove the tops from the carrots prior to cooking if you are not planning to make this dish right away after getting the carrots home. This will prevent the carrots from wilting.

If you cant find rainbow carrots, you can certainly use all orange for this recipe, or even all purple.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 360Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 31gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 569mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 3g

All information presented and written within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist or registered dietitian and any nutritional information should only be used as a general guideline. Statements within this site have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is provided for recipes contained on this site. This information comes from online calculators. Although The Copper Table attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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17 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness, I want this so bad!
    I love roasted carrots, and those rainbow carrots are so beautiful.

    One time, probably 10 to 12 years ago, we grew carrots. I could not bear to chop off the tops, so I did make some carrot top pesto, and it was so yummy. It’s so fresh!

    Love your recipe, and thank you for sharing it up this Sunday sunshine blog hop this week

    Laurie

  2. We made this dish and we’re blown away – it is going to be in our regular recipe rotation! It is so flavorful and delicious. We served it with quinoa and brown rice to make a meal. We also omitted the Parmesan to make it vegan, but next time we might just sub vegan Parmesan instead. Thank you for a recipe we’ll make again and again.

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