Apparently it’s set to be one of 2018’s hottest food trends. It ticks the vegan, sugar free, gluten free and paleo boxes and is a trend I’m passionate about. ‘Root to stem’. Root to stem cooking is all about minimising food wastage and finding creative ways to use every single bit of a vegetable, rather than discarding parts that are generally considered inedible.
In reality of many of the less desirable limbs of common veggies are in fact completely edible and highly nutritious – not least because they’re packed with fibre. Take for example broccoli stems, kale stalks and beetroot leaves. Although not one for food trends or fad diets when it comes to root to stem I’m a convert – take for example my crispy cauliflower leaves, whole roasted broccoli and pickled celery tops.
My latest root to stem creation is Carrot Top Pesto – a pesto (or even a pasta sauce) made from the greens that accompany Dutch carrots. Carrot leaves are highly nutritious – they are said to contain six times the Vitamin C of the roots and they’re packed with Vitamin K and A. Of course, being green, the leaves are also rich in chlorophyll and hence good for digestive health.
The carrot tops that made their way into this pesto were destined for wastage – because most carrot customers at my local farmers market had opted to buy their carrots topless. The farmer happily gave me a whole box of the carrot top greens and a little research led me to this pesto.
There are a fair few recipes online for carrot top pesto. I took a little of those who’d gone before me to come up with this recipe. The base recipe is vegan but it works well with Parmesan (vegetarian version) and also with anchovies (pescatarian version). So far I’ve used this pesto as a dip, a pizza topping and as a pasta sauce.
- 400g carrot tops (or 300g carrot tops and 100g rocket or other greens)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup each of apple cider and olive oil
- Small handful of olives
- 1/4 preserved lemon or lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- Vegetarian version – add Parmesan
- Pescatarian version – replace the olives with anchovies
- Thoroughly wash the carrot tops, removing any discoloured pieces.
- Roughly chop the carrot tops and blitz them in a food processor (or large bowl if you’re using a hand blender).
- Add all of the other ingredients and then process into a smooth paste.
- Transfer to sterilised glass jars, topping each with an extra layer of olive oil.
- Serve as a dip, or even as a pasta sauce.
I’d love to hear if you’re experimenting with root to stem. If so what’s your top root to stem recipe?