Think twice before you throw away those carrot tops. Many vegetable tops, including the greens on carrots, beets, radishes, and turnips can be eaten. Similar to other leafy greens, like spinach and Swiss chard, these greens are packed with nutrients like vitamin A and vitamin C. They are an excellent way to add vegetables to your meal while saving you money by reducing food waste. Why not try something new?!
Not only can veggie tops be eaten, they can also tell you how fresh the vegetable itself is. The greens do not keep for as long as the root, so a carrot with bright green leaves means it has been picked recently. Great ways to find fresh root vegetables with healthy green tops are to buy in season and shop at local farmers’ markets. Find a market near you.
Flavours and Cooking Tips
Vegetable tops can be cooked and eaten like other leafy greens. They can be sautéed, tossed in a salad, cooked in soups and sauces, mixed in with a stir fry, or even added to a homemade green smoothie. Each of the tops has its own flavour and usually resembles the vegetable they sprout from.
- Radish leaves: like radishes, the leaves have a strong peppery taste. Radish leaves can add a flavour kick to your salads or be mixed in a pasta sauce, similar to arugula.
- Beet greens: dark green leaves with a bright colourful stem. They have a slightly sweet taste and can be used like Swiss chard in your cooking. Try beet greens sautéed with garlic and olive oil.
- Carrot tops: because they taste like parsley you can use them just like parsley in cooking. Try carrot tops as a garnish on roasted vegetables or blended as a pesto (recipe below).
- Turnip greens: often used in southern cooking, turnip greens have a somewhat bitter taste but that flavour lessens when cooked. Add these leaves to a vegetable soup for some bonus greens.
Add these greens to your cooking to help you eat more vegetables and decrease your household food waste. It’s a win, win! For more tips to help save money by decreasing food waste click here.
Carrot Top Pesto Recipe
Try this quick and easy carrot top pesto recipe as a way to start using vegetable tops!
625 mL (2½ cups) carrot tops, washed and dried
125 mL (½ cup) fresh basil
60 mL (¼ cup) sunflower seeds
1-2 cloves garlic
25 mL (1 Tbsp) lemon juice
125 mL (½ cup) Parmesan cheese (optional)
50-100 mL (2-4 Tbsp) olive oil, plus more as needed
- In a food processor, combine carrot tops, basil, sunflower seeds, garlic, lemon juice, and Parmesan. Blend until smooth. Slowly add olive oil, pulsing until smooth.
- Store in a clean, airtight container (such as a mason jar) in the fridge for one-two weeks or in the freezer for up to four months so you can have homemade pesto into the winter.
One of my favorite summer dishes is barbecued vegetables (especially potatoes, bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions) mixed with a big scoop of carrot top pesto. Enjoy!
Author’s Bio: Caroline Pollock is a dietetic intern currently completing her internship with the Provincial Health Services Authority. She has a passion for gardening and finding new fun ways to use fresh produce in the kitchen. You can often find her shopping the farmers markets on the weekends.