Carrot top salsa
Everyday Eats & Sweets, Recipes

Carrot Top Salsa

I have a love/hate with carrot tops.

The feathery greens — and I’m talking the good stuff from homegrown carrots or farmers’ market carrots, not the sad, wilty greens you sometimes find attached to carrots in supermarkets — are packed with potassium and other vitamins and minerals, more than what you’ll find in the roots themselves. (The same goes for beets, turnips and radishes, whose greens are more nutritious than the roots.)

I find the greens to be uniquely palatable (and perhaps an acquired taste) — earthy and just a bit bitter, like their crunchy counterparts. But harvesting just one or two carrots from my garden means I’m often left with a sink full of carrot tops that I struggle to use up before my next harvest — in soups, soup stock, salads, pesto, omelets.

Carrot tops in the garden

The herbal flavor and chewy texture of carrot tops means a little goes a long way, so what happens when I pull up this biggie along with its fabulous head of hair?

Freshly harvested carrot with greens

I make carrot top salsa!

This sauce is a riff on my chimichurri recipe, and it’s every bit as amazing as the Argentinian version. I use the carrot top salsa on anything I would typically slather chimichurri on, from chicken and steak to potatoes and bread. A mini ramekin of carrot top salsa served with a crusty baguette makes an excellent starter or side. With summer here, it’s also crazy good when smeared on grilled corn (if not a bit messy, but who cares!). On the day that I made this, after I went to bed, my husband actually sneaked a jar for a midnight snack and had the salsa with chips!

Carrot top salsa is the perfect way to use up an excess of carrot tops, as you’ll need the greens from a couple of carrots just to make two cups’ worth of sauce. Since they tend to be a tad chewy as far as greens go, I prefer to chop them up by hand to get a very fine and uniform texture.

Fresh carrot greens

I also used a mix of Greek oregano and wild zaatar here, but you can use all oregano or try your own variation of complementary herbs.

Carrot Top Salsa

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

2 cups minced carrot tops
3 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons minced oregano
2 tablespoons minced jalapeño pepper
1 to 1 1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Juice and zest from 1 lemon

Method

Got everything all minced and zested and ready to go?

All minced and zested and ready to go

Good — dump it all into a bowl with the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice, and stir to combine.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl

Let the salsa sit at room temperature overnight while the flavors meld together. Like chimichurri, the sauce gets better with age, and you’ll know it’s good when the carrot tops have turned a deep, muted shade of army green.

Decant into jars and refrigerate. The sauce should last at least two weeks chilled, but is best served at room temperature.

Carrot top chimichurri

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  • Marie

    I got some carrots with ridiculous amounts of greens and want to try this…

    Is the oregano fresh or dried?

    And will it be okay if I omit the jalapenos? I’m avoiding nightshades at the moment… Should I substitute with anything?

    • This recipe calls for fresh oregano, but you can substitute with dried oregano (start with 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of dried, to taste). And yes, you can omit the jalapenos – it will just have a slightly different flavor since the jalapenos give it a little heat.

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  • BrittK

    Hi Linda! This recipe looks SO GOOD! Thank you for sharing 🙂 I have a question about using carrot tops…do you only use tops from fully mature carrots, or can you also use tops from younger ones too? I’ve never used carrot tops before, so I don’t know if there’s a difference in flavor or anything. Thanks!

    • You can use the carrot tops at any stage. When I thin out my carrot seedlings, I use them in a salad. 🙂

  • JIW

    Hi–came here for teh carrot top recipe. I cam across a bunch of nice organic winter carrots yesterday. Been wanting to try something with the tops. I have been eating the tops of a lot of root veggies that I normally wouldn’t have a few years ago.. They are quite tasty. I sure missed a lot of goodness. Thanks for the recipe. Don’t have wine vinegar, but do have some Braggs, so I’ll try that. Thank you for your blog. Enjoyed my time here.

    • I appreciate you leaving this comment and hope you find many more useful posts on my blog! Enjoy the carrot top salsa!

      And if you’re looking for more ways to use the tops of root vegetables, I have a variety of recipes in my book, The CSA Cookbook: http://thecsacookbook.com .

      • JIW

        I had to make several substitutions based on what I had in my larder. Braggs vinegar, pepitas, avocado oil (which I have been using lately, and I really like it). this was fantastic–even my hubby liked it. I put it on cracker rounds that I make then added homegrown sprouts for crunch. soooogod. Used it as topping for salmon for dinner. Very nice. Thank you. Keep up the good work. I’ll check out your cookbook. Judy

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  • RockymntMom

    Hi , I really enjoy your blog also!!
    I have a quick question , I was wondering if you can freeze the greens as I have quite a few carrot’s ready to pull !
    I would love to enjoy them until the next growing season here!
    Like you said , the store green’s just aren’t the same!!
    Thank you for your time..

    • I don’t recommend it; the greens will turn quite watery/mushy once they thaw out, especially since carrot leaves are very fine to begin with. However if you just plan to throw them into soup, the texture won’t be such an issue.

      • Zephaniah

        Can you dehydrate the carrot leaves and use later?

        • I’m sure you could, but I wouldn’t know how the flavor turns out after drying.

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  • I have yet to come across any scientific study that says carrot tops are toxic, and I find that NY Times post (which I read a long time ago when I first started growing carrots) to be poorly researched.

    There is a big difference in food being toxic or merely allergenic. Some people may experience allergic reactions to carrot tops, but that is not to say carrot tops are toxic or that allergic reactions to them are even common. This myth has been continually perpetuated online based on anecdotes and hearsay, and not actual fact.

    • madams

      it may not be true but if a highly regarded botanist like Judith Sumner says to use caution I feel its appropriate to be a little cautious before you know how your body reacts.

  • madams

    I really like your blog and your approach to using everything but be careful carrot tops can be toxic so you might want to do a little research and warn your readers before you encourage people to eat these things.

    http://topics.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/13/the-toxic-salad/

  • S Brownie

    I had the pleasure of trying this delicious salsa over the weekend, and when I went in for a second chip and dip, the salsa was practically gone! It was fresh tasting and a nice compliment to the gluten-free chips we were snacking on! 🙂

  • Gin Wallace

    Great timing! Just yesterday I was contemplating the fate of the carrot tops from my garden. I’ve never eaten the tops before but now I am excited to try your recipe. Loving your blog, keep up the good work!

    • Thank you! (Also try carrot tops in soup, which is how I like to eat it cooked… chopped up finely and added to a tasty broth with potatoes and beans.)

  • Souda

    Wow! How do you come up with these recipes? I truly admire your capability to find a use out of anything and everything. Nothing goes to waste.

    • Thank you! I love to experiment in the kitchen. My husband makes a great guinea pig. 😉

      • Janely

        Do you think this recipe could be canned–I have a gargantuan amount of carrot greens and would hate to see them all go to waste.

        • I would caution against canning this. The amount of acidity in the recipe is uncertain and you also risk rancidity with all that olive oil. However, you can freeze it.

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