It's August, the month of bounty! Our window sill is lined with ripening peaches, mixing bowls are full of garden tomatoes, there is enough zucchini for 10 loaves of zucchini bread. And then there's the odds and ends that often end up in the trash: swiss chard stems, great for baking into a frittata. Empty corn cobs, an easy way to flavor and thicken soup. And carrot tops, an earthy addition to pesto. In some ways, these are the pieces I love the most.
Speaking of carrot tops, I had a baby boy since the last time I posted here, and he has his dad's perfect red hair! Before I had him, of course I worried about what having a baby would mean for all the things I love, my time, my life. The mantra I heard over and over while I was pregnant was ____ while you can. Sleep while you can! Go on dates while you can! Enjoy the quiet while you can! It's scary walking towards a life event that sometimes sounds like an end to everything that makes you you, no matter how excited you feel. I wondered, will I still love to cook on the other side? Will I have time?
Turns out I do. Becoming a mama has been a wild, humbling experience, but also intensely wonderful, magical one. My house is messier, there are fewer 90-minute yoga classes, but I still eat three times a day and enjoy it as much as ever. As Tamar Adler says, I still cook like the person I am – a person who is hungry.
So, carrot top pesto! If you find yourself the owner of a bunch of carrots with the tops on, don't toss them! They make an amazing pesto that doesn't use up all the basil on your plant that's almost dead (just me?).
This pesto has a milder, earthier flavor than an all-basil pesto, and a little mint gives it such a note of freshness – it's perfect to toss with pasta, or smear thick on tomato toast.
1/4 cup raw almonds (skins removed)
1 clove garlic
1 heaping cup carrot tops, from a medium bundle of carrots
1/4 cup mint
1/4 cup basil
1/2 cup pecorino romano, grated
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt
Process almonds and garlic in a food processor until very finely chopped. Add carrot tops, mint, basil, and pecorino; process until smooth. Drizzle olive oil through the top of food processor, then lemon juice. Taste for salt (the pecorino is quite salty so you won't need much, if any!). Store in the fridge in a tightly sealed jar for up to a week.