One Thanksgiving long ago, I was scolded by my fake Aunt Linda for throwing out the turkey carcass after we were done picking the meat off the bones. It was in that moment that something clicked in my brain about how much food we waste as consumers. Trust that I never threw away that carcass again, nor did I throw away any other animal bones. Into zip-top freezer bags they went, along with any vegetable scraps that would make a good stock.
Being vegan now, I don’t mess with animal bones, but that doesn’t mean that I’m exempt from being wasteful. In fact, we have SO MANY vegetable scraps, it’s insane.
It was a presentation that I attended at Melissa’s Produce, where someone casually mentioned making pesto with carrot tops. It set my brain on fire, and I had to make it! Since then, I’ve become vegan, so I thought a refresh was needed.
Fast forward to the end of 2018. I got an email from Grow Riverside about a free ambassador program that they were putting on (for free), titled Riverside Food Waste Prevention and Food Rescue Initiative. I just knew I had to participate in this program. It’s been great so far, learning what goes to the landfill, and what gets recycled. There are programs in Riverside that will come and glean fruit off your fruit trees, and transport them where they will go to good use. We learned about composting, reducing our household waste even more, with less going to the landfill. Did you know that 40% of food grown, ends up in the trash? What a waste of not only our hard earned dollars, but also a waste of land! When the landfill is full, it’s capped off, never to be touched again. Sad, right?
I’m here to do my part, and use my passion to help spread the word on how we can reduce our waste. That’s why I’m sharing this recipe for Vegan Carrot Top Pesto Spaghetti. You can use those lovely green carrot tops, and make something delicious, while also helping keep perfectly good, edible and tasty food out of that landfill!
If any of you are local, and interested in the Food Rescue & Waste Prevention Ambassador Certification Program, there are other opportunities later on in 2019. Check the link above!
Carrot Top Pesto
- 1 Cup Carrot Top Leaves Tightly packed cup and roughly chopped
- 1/2 Cup Pine Nuts
- 1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic Finely Chopped
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil Extra virgin
For The Pasta
- 1 Package Spaghetti 16 ounces
- 1/2 Cup Pasta Water Reserved
- Dry-toast the pine nuts by heating a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts, tossing continuously, until the nuts are toasted and slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
- To a food processor, add the carrot tops, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt and lemon juice. Pulse until roughly chopped and incorporated together. Add in the olive oil, and turn the food processor on continuously until everything is incorporated and you have an only slightly chunky, not quite smooth mixture.
- If the mixture sticks to the sides of the food processor, use a spatula to scrape down the sides, and pulse again, so everything is evenly mixed.
- Cook pasta as per package instructions, reserving 1/2-1 cup of pasta water.
- After reserving the pasta water, drain the pasta. In the pot, add 1/2 cup of pasta water, and 1 recipe of the Carrot Top Pesto. Whisk to combine.
- Add the drained spaghetti back into the pan, and toss to coat the noodles. If the sauce is still too tight, and not distributing evenly, add more reserved pasta water.
- Garnish with fresh carrot top leaves and enjoy!