6.12.13 Tender Young Things
photos by gluttonforlife
Now these are baby carrots. Scarcely wider than a gentleman's ring finger and half again as long. Look for them at your farmers market and for bunches of hot pink French breakfast radishes. Munch on them raw for a sweet, crunchy snack, or roast them together for a light seasonal meal. And if your carrots have vibrant bushy greens attached? Do not toss them into the trash, nor even the compost pile. Turn them into an earthy pesto and enjoy the thrill of vegetarian nose-to-tail cooking.
fresh & scrubbed
In a rut with your vegetable preparation? Toss almost any junior specimens whole (or cut-up mature ones) with olive oil and salt, spread them on a baking sheet and pop them into a hot oven (around 400 degrees) until they are tender and lightly caramelized. The salt is key here as it helps draw out moisture, which enhances sweetness. Roasted radishes are a revelation. Say that five times very fast. I like to roast slices of lemon as well, though they take less time and should be added about halfway through.
The greens attached to your vegetables are a great indication of freshness—and they can provide another dimension to your meal. You want them fresh and crisp of course, whether they're attached to carrots, radishes, turnips or beets. Carrot tops can be blanched and pureed into a vivid green sauce for fish or substituted for basil in a classic pesto with pine nuts and Parmesan.
I've gone a different direction here, inspired by the Latin flavors in ABC Kitchen's carrot-avocado salad (see here
). My chunky pesto is made with toasted pepitas
(green pumpkin seeds) and a little of that spicy adobo sauce that blankets canned chipotles
. My other secret is a spoonful of nutritional yeast
, which imparts an irresistibly savory, lip-smacking quality. Still haven't tried this strange and wonderful yellow dust? I highly recommend adding it to your arsenal.
head to tail eating
The slightly spicy, highly flavorful carrot top pesto was perfect with these young vegetables. I made a version of this
divine cornbread to go along with them, and that was dinner. I'm eating largely vegetarian these days and loving every leaf, pod, stalk, root, bean, grain, seed, bulb and kernel of it.
Carrot Top Pesto
makes about 1 cup
— 3 cups carrot tops
— 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
— 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles en adobo)
— 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
— 2 teaspoons lemon zest
— 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
— 1 tablespoon olive oil
— sea salt, to taste
Roughly chop the carrot tops.
Toast the pepitas in a hot skillet until golden.
Combine these two in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times. Add the remaining ingredients (except the salt) and process into a semi-smooth paste.
Taste and add salt, as needed. If pesto is too thick, add a little warm water and process again.
To store, film the top with a little olive oil and pack in a jar. Will keep in a jar in the fridge for several days.