Don’t throw out carrot tops - you can make a meal out of them

Sheena's pot-grown carrots

Sheena's pot-grown carrots - Credit: Archant

Back in May, inspired by a free seeds offer in my local supermarket, I started my first ever window-sill vegetable garden, writes Sheena Grant.

Sheena's carrot-top pesto

Sheena's carrot-top pesto - Credit: Archant

Back in May, inspired by a free seeds offer in my local supermarket, I started my first ever window-sill vegetable garden.

Some things were more successful than others. The basil, thyme and parsley are still going strong, but the tomatoes outgrew their space and had to be planted out, where, even now, they’re looking green and unripe.

I also grew some carrots in a pot. Their bright, feathery tops sprouted thickly but the carrots themselves took time to mature.

I’ve been looking at them for weeks now, wondering when they might be big enough to harvest, fearful of tearing them from the soil too soon and having nothing to show for all those months of anticipation and nurturing.

In the end, the decision was made for me by those carrot tops.

Some of them were starting to die off and I didn’t want that.

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Those tops, the part of the carrot we usually thoughtlessly discard as kitchen ‘waste’, were an integral part of my latest thrifty plan.

Since late winter, when my carrot seeds were still waiting for spring and their chance of life, I have been planning to try out a recipe I found in a weekend newspaper supplement.

I could have bought some carrots - with tops - but how much better, I thought, if I grew my own.

Chef Anna Jones - a former Jamie Oliver trainee - devised this recipe to make us think about the vegetable seeds, peelings, cores, and cooking liquors we get rid of on autopilot when actually, they are eminently edible.

It’s a subject I’ve written about before, making soup from waste broccoli stems and crisps from potato peelings.

Anna’s recipe involves blitzing carrot (and/or beetroot) tops in a food processor with roast garlic, squash or pumpkin seeds, a roasted lemon, grated cheese and olive oil.

I didn’t have a lemon in the house when I made mine so used liquid and a few slices from a jar of preserved lemons instead, along with ‘waste’ oil from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes and a little brine from a jar of capers.

The pesto is zingy, tasty and free. You can freeze any you don’t use immediately or keep in a jar in the fridge for up to a week. Oh, and I’ve got a small crop of home-grown carrots to enjoy as well.

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