My biggest garden regret of 2017? That I didn’t plant more orange and purple carrots. I love the beta carotene-rich roots as well as the ferny green tops. Yes, carrot foliage is edible! It makes a fine pesto, too, when combined with garlic and lemon. I made carrot top pesto the other day, and used it as a condiment for a sexy sheet pan dinner:
Note: If you don’t have carrots in your garden, or if your farmers’ market or grocery store doesn’t offer organic carrots with the foliage still attached, please don’t despair. Just substitute arugula or baby kale leaves for the carrot greens in the first part of this recipe. (Ordinary basil pesto will work as well.)
To make about 2 cups of carrot top pesto, first detach the green stems and leaves from 6 or 7 carrots. Pull off and discard (or compost) any yellow or dry foliage.
Then roughly chop the greens…
And swish them around in a big bowl of cold water. Dirt and debris will fall to the bottom of the bowl.
Lift the greens from the water (don’t drain them in a colander), and blot them dry on a terrycloth towel.
Now toss the greens and 2 or 3 cloves of garlic into the work bowl of a food processor…
Add a handful of almonds (above) or pine nuts…
The juice of half a lemon…
And a generous handful of grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese.
Obviously, exact measurements are not needed for this pesto.
Pulse the machine a few times just to break up the ingredients.
Then, with the machine running, add olive oil through the feed-tube until a thick-but-spreadable sauce develops.
Taste carefully! Does the pesto need salt? Pepper? More garlic or lemon juice? Amend the pesto as your tongue dictates.
No picture of this next step: Transfer the pesto to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and pop it in the fridge while you make the sheet pan dinner. (Hint: pesto — no matter its variety — will remain fresh and wonderful for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.)
Scrub 6 or 7 carrots which are not terribly fat, and cut them lengthwise in half.
Surprise! Purple carrots are orange inside.
Put the carrots on a large, rimmed baking sheet. I love my commercial-grade “half” sheets because they do not warp at high temperatures. You can buy them, just as I did, from this online source.
Then take a few ‘Yukon Gold’ potatoes from your basket of just-dug spuds, and scrub them and cut them into wedges.
And by the way, I planted my seed potatoes under straw last summer. The method worked, but it didn’t work nearly as well as the traditional method, where the potatoes are planted in soil and then hilled with more soil or compost. Live and learn, folks.
Add the potato wedges and 1/4 cup water to the baking sheet, and then dust the veggies with kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper.
Tightly cover the pan with aluminum foil, and pop it into a preheated 400°F oven for exactly 30 minutes.
Oh. We are steaming the carrots and potatoes first, because they take longer to cook than the other ingredients that follow.
While the roots veggies are steaming, you might like to cut a head of broccoli into small florets, just as I did.
After the carrots and potatoes have steamed for 30 minutes, retrieve the baking sheet, and remove the foil wrapping. (TIP: save the foil for future sheet pan dinners.) Give the veggies a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. The oil will help the veggies to caramelize as they roast.
Next, scatter the broccoli over the carrots and potatoes, and nestle 6 chicken thighs among the veggies.
Hate chicken thighs? Use boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size cubes.
Give the chicken and broccoli a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and a generous dusting of fresh or dried thyme leaves.
Roast, uncovered, until the thighs are cooked through, and the broccoli is slightly singed — 30 minutes.
Now put a heapin’ helpin’ of this sheet pan sumptuousness on a blue plate…
And spoon some of the gorgeous carrot top pesto (or whatever pesto you are using) over the chicken, and, if you wish, over the vegetables.
As you’ve just seen, this sexy supper is a breeze to make. I hope you’ll try it some day.
Here’s the printable: