Thursday, July 9, 2015

Vegetable Feature: Green Top Carrots

By Andrea Yoder
Carrots have become a staple item in many American households.  We assume most people have their “go-to” ways to use carrots, and seldom ever feature them in the newsletter.  After a long winter hiatus, we’re happy to see fresh carrots coming in from the field again and thought it is worth mentioning some of the differences between early season carrots and those we harvest in the fall for winter storage.
There are many different types and varieties of carrots, some more well-suited for growing at different times of the season.  Right now we’re harvesting two varieties of carrots that are classified as “nantes” carrots.  They are characterized by being more tender and juicy with a slightly different shape than our storage carrots.  They also take fewer days to get to maturity and are often harvested with the tops intact.  There are many things you can do with the actual carrot ranging from simply eating it raw to silky smooth soups, shredded carrot salads and (to satisfy the fancy side) even carrot soufflé.  The carrot tops, however, are often removed and discarded.  But wait…the tops are the bonus, don’t discard them!

The green tops of the carrots are edible as well, allowing you to maximize the entire plant. Carrot tops have an earthy “green” flavor with hints of carrot and are actually quite versatile in their uses.  They add breadth of flavor to soups or stocks, can be incorporated into stir-fries, and are excellent when sautéed with beet greens along with garlic, onions and a splash of lemon juice or vinegar. You can also blanch the carrot tops and then blend them along with oil, salt and pepper to make a simple sauce for fish, roasted meats or other vegetables. You can also consider dipping the carrot tops into tempura batter for a lacey, tasty fried alternative…one of Farmer Richard’s favorite uses for carrot tops. Finally, as with many other greens they can also be incorporated into pesto, the featured recipe of the week. So, take advantage of these early season carrots and see if you can find some creative ways to utilize the tops and the roots! We love to hear from our members! Please feel free to email recipe ideas or post your pictures & recipes to our Facebook page!

Carrot Top Pesto
Yield:  about ⅔ cups
1 cup lightly packed carrot leaves (stems removed)
6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove
¼ tsp kosher or fine sea salt
3 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. In a food processor, combine the carrot leaves, oil, garlic and salt and process until finely minced.  
  2. Add the pine nuts and pulse until finely chopped.  Add the Parmesan and pulse just until combined.
  3. Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

This recipe was borrowed from a beautiful cookbook entitled Roots, by Diane Morgan.  In the introduction to this recipe the author writes: “This recipe is an absolute keeper, and it’s satisfying to make use of the whole plant.  I serve this as a dip with crudité (fresh vegetables), and often add a dollop on top of bruschetta that has been smeared with fresh goat cheese.  It’s also perfect simply tossed with pasta.”

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