Thursday, July 14, 2016

Vegetable Feature: Carrot Tops

When I asked Richard which vegetable he thought we should feature this week his response was “Carrot Tops!” So first of all, let me clarify that the tops are in fact edible!  Carrots are often sold with their green tops on as a sign of freshness.  While most people discard the top, it’s a shame to do so as there is a lot value in the tops!

Carrot tops are similar to parsley, however their texture is a bit coarser.  The flavor of carrot tops is similar to carrots (go figure), but with more of a “green” character.  Carrot tops may be used to flavor soups and stocks.  If you are making vegetable or meat stock, add the carrot tops during the last 30-40 minutes of cooking.  You don’t want to cook them too long or the flavor will change to an overcooked vegetable flavor.  If you are incorporating carrot tops into a soup, you will want to either finely chop them and/or blend the soup to yield a smooth texture.

One of our longtime CSA members, Carol, tipped us off to the beauty of carrot top pesto.  You can find a recipe for this in the searchable recipe database on our website.  I started thinking of other blended sauce type preparations that resemble pesto, such as chimichurri.  Chimichurri is a fresh sauce made in Argentina that consists of parsley, oregano, garlic, vinegar and olive oil.  I tried this preparation with the addition of carrot tops and found it was delicious!  I’ve included the recipe for you in this week’s newsletter.

As Richard was reflecting on carrot tops this past week, he told me about some of our original CSA members who actually encouraged him to pack the carrots with the tops left on the carrot.  Prior to that Richard didn’t realize there was a use for them so they topped the carrots and just delivered the root.  Why did they want the tops?  Well, these members were from Japan and they wanted to use the carrot tops to make Carrot Top Tempura!  Tempura originated in Japan and consists of a light batter that can be made from cake flour, rice flour, all-purpose flour or a mixture of these.  Vegetables, seafood and meat can be dipped in this very simple batter and is then deep-fried briefly.  You can tempura all kinds of vegetables.  In this week’s box, you could use the carrot tops as well as zucchini, onions, green beans and even broccoli to make a mixed vegetable tempura.

So this week, we encourage you to “think outside the box” and consider including carrot tops in your meals.  Have fun and reap the benefits nutritionally as well as enjoying yet another delicious vegetable!

Carrot Top Chimichurri

Carrot Top Chimichuri plated with Halibut

By Andrea Yoder

Yield:  about ¾-1 cup

½ cup coarsely chopped carrot tops
¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
4 large garlic cloves
2 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves
2 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. In a food processor, combine the carrot tops, parsley, vinegar, garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper.  Process until the ingredients are  finely chopped.  Season with salt and black pepper and mix again, just briefly.

2. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a bowl and pour the olive oil over the mixture.  Let stand for at least 20 minutes before using.

Chimichurri is a traditional sauce in Argentina.  As with most traditional recipes, each cook will have their own variations, but the basic ingredients for chimichurri include fresh parsley, garlic, oregano and vinegar.  Chimichurri may be used as a sauce to serve with food.  Traditionally it’s served with grilled meats, but it is also a nice accompaniment for grilled chicken and fish or tossed with roasted vegetables.  You may also use chimichurri as a marinade to add flavor to cuts of meat such as flank steak.

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