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Monday, May 17, 2010

Carrot Green & Hazelnut Pesto

When I picked up the carrots I used for my Carrot Parsnip Puree (see May 13 post), the nice man at the green market asked me if I wanted to cut the tops off. Without hesitation I replied, "No, thanks. I'd like to keep the tops". After paying I walked away and thought, "Huh? I want the tops? What am I going to do with them?". So, I did a little research, which consisted mainly of confirming that they were not somehow toxic to humans. And it turns out that they are edible and totally safe to eat. Hmm. The next step was to taste them. I washed a few and took a nibble. I was pleasantly surprised. They actually tasted pretty good. They had a fresh, grassy flavor that was slightly bitter and carroty (I know, small wonder). After I decided that I was going to eat them, I had to determine how exactly I was going to transform this HUGE bunch of carrot greens into a delicious meal. I decided to puree them with hazelnuts and make a pesto (and throw in a little sausage for good measure). The outcome was nutty, earthy and delicious and the slight bitterness of the greens was balanced by the richness of the hazelnuts and parmesan cheese.

So, the next time you pick up a bunch of carrots with vibrant, fresh-looking greens attached, don't throw them away! Eating the greens is not only a good way to get more nutritious, leafy vegetables into our diets, but it also reduces our wastefulness (and spending!).

Orcchiette with Carrot Green & Hazelnut Pesto

2 servings

1 large bunch of carrot greens, large stems removed

1/4 c. parsley
3/4 c. toasted hazelnuts
1/2 c. grated parmesan reggiano
1 large or 2 small minced garlic cloves
juice from 1/2 lemon

1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 lb orcchiette (or any other short-cut pasta)
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
salt to taste
1 link sausage (about 1/3 lb)
1 tsp olive oil

Combine first 6 ingredients in food processor. With motor running, stream in olive oil and blend. Season to taste with salt and crushed red pepper. Meanwhile, remove sausage from casing and saute in remaining teaspoon of olive oil over med-high heat until sausage is cooked through and slightly browned. Cook pasta in heavily salted boiling water. Reserve some of the starchy pasta cooking liquid before draining the pasta. Combine pasta, sausage and pesto, adding some of the reserved pasta liquid if it looks a little dry. Serve with extra parmesan cheese grated on top.

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