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.
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?
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.
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
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
Got everything 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.
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.