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Carrot tops, one chef’s trash is another chef’s pesto.

I’ve said it before…I love cooking with “trash!”

I still haven’t found a use for the white pith on a pepper, lemon seeds, or the twist tie that holds baby vegetables together, but I can use just about anything else. In my line if work, I don’t only get to cook with delicious vegetables, but I also help source weird, and sometimes totally random, produce for chefs all across the Southeast.

A customer of mine recently asked me to source carrot tops, and I actually found a vendor that sells carrot tops—I was elated! Someone else that gets it! Why would you throw away something that was totally usable? There is obviously a market for these items, so it makes sense both from a financial and a sustainability aspect.

But it really got me to thinking…how many carrot tops were being thrown away? And how many carrot tops had this particular chef thrown away?

I spoke with the customer and he assured me he didn’t throw away his carrot tops or peels for that matter. He used them in stocks and sauces, but for this particular application he needed some tops for garnish for a large plate up and he was afraid the tops he had would not be enough. Once again…pure elation!

So, the next time you have some super sweet carrots with tops…don’t throw the tops away. I challenge you to find a unique way to use them. They have a slightly bitter and acidic flavor, so they pair perfectly with a little sweet and some fat. Maybe toss them with some candied fruit and some olive oil for a relish for a crispy skinned white fish? Maybe toss them with some toasted pumpkin seeds and roasted garlic for a beautiful accompaniment for grilled pork? The possibilities are incredible.

Or maybe try this…take your carrot tops and toss with a little roasted garlic and toasted pine nuts. Add some fruity olive oil slowly and loosely emulsify. Finish with some grated Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper for carrot top pesto. You can toss this with pasta, put on top of bruschetta, dip chips in it…try it on everything…bon appetite, baby!


Content provided by Philip Spencer, the Culinary Development Specialist for FreshPoint Atlanta. He has spent 16 years in kitchens, working under numerous James Beard Award winning chefs, and he loves to talk about produce with customers. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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Find out more details about our UBU program, and how we are shining a spotlight on food waste, while making value and food safety a priority.

Pesto from carrot tops? You betcha.
Pesto from carrot tops? You betcha.


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