Walnut, carrot top and arugula pesto

Nothing is left to waste with carrot top pesto. While this recipe shares many of the same ingredients with traditional pesto — including garlic, lemon, and basil — it’s made extra nutty, bright and a touch spicy with the addition of walnuts, walnut oil, lemon zest and arugula.

Red pepper pasta carrot top pesto

Walking down to the local farmer’s market every Sunday with my daughters and husband has become a sort of family ritual as of late.

First, we grab the world’s most buttery croissants at Arsicault (the little bakery that was recently made famous by Bon Appetite). Then we walk around and  take note of what everyone’s selling that day and stop to visit our favorites. When we get to the live music, we hang out for a while to shake it down. We follow it up with a beet smoothie from Bare Juice to balance out that croissant. It’s lovely and it’s something that is becoming ours. There’s only one problem: I can barely control myself around all the beautiful produce.

I end up buying a bunch of beets and vow to use the greens on top before they go bad (and never do) or stock up on bunches of gorgeous chard, kale and collards that I swear I’ll use up and then end up throwing into a soup right before they’re totally wilted.

There’s one thing I do always make use of, however, and that’s carrot tops — especially when in perfect condition. If I don’t freeze them for stock or styling certain dishes (their shape holds up so much better than parsley or cilantro), I make carrot top pesto.

Pesto is one of those things that lasts for weeks if there’s enough oil and it’s in a well-sealed jar. It’s also incredibly versatile. I put it on all the usual suspects, including pasta and veggies, but I also often stir it into vegetable soups that need a flavor kick.

So, this week, I figured I’d share my go-to recipe, which you can adjust however you need with the nuts and greens in your pantry. And maybe next time I should try it with those beet greens?!

Baby carrots
Carrot top pesto
Red pepper pasta carrot top pesto walnut oil-1396.jpg


This recipe calls for walnut oil, which really enhances the flavors of the nuts and adds a level of savoriness. But don’t sweat it if you don’t have it or can’t find it in stores — olive oil works great here, too. Just don’t skip the lemon zest. It’s a small thing that brightens the whole dish.


PREP TIME: 5  minutes COOK TIME: 0 minutes TOTAL TIME: 5 minutes


1/4 cup toasted walnuts
¼ cup toasted pistachios
1 small garlic clove
1 cup carrot tops, coarsely chopped
1 cup arugula
½ cup basil leaves
1 lemon, zested and juiced
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup walnut oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
Kosher salt


  1. In a food processor, pulse together the nuts and garlic. Add the carrot tops, arugula, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, cheese and red pepper flakes and pulse to combine.
  2. With the motor on slow, add the olive oil until combined. You can leave it chunky or make it smooth.
  3. Taste and adjust the salt to your liking.
  4. Serve on pasta, veggies, fish or meats.