Don’t waste a thing

Vegetable leaves indicate the wellbeing of the vegetable root that lies beneath the earth. Just like looking into the eyes of someone tells us the condition of their heart, vegetable leaves also provide us with the same diagnostic insight. It would be a shame to leave out or, even worse, throw out the life partner of the carrot root who loyally delivers goodness from the outside world.

In this recipe, with are using what some people leave out. Choose a nice bunch of Dutch carrots that have even size roots and a healthy mop of leaves. 

I use a bamboo Asian style steamer which I love because it’s simple, inexpensive, very practical and… food looks somehow more comfortable in it. 

The perfect match

This dish brings out the natural flavour of the carrots, from head to tail.

The sharpness of the pesto contrasts so well with the sweet carrots. The pesto is only pesto by name; feel free to add other nuts or herbs to complement the carrots. Adding lemon zest may be unusual for a pesto, but wait until you’ve tried it, you won’t ever leave it out again!

This dish is excellent as a snack or a side dish.

It’s all in the prep

If I was roasting the carrots I would not peel them, but in this case, peeling the carrots brings out that beautiful orange colour when steaming.

Give the leaves a good wash; they grow close to the ground and can often have micro grains of dirt hidden in their fronds that can destroy the perfect tasting pesto with one unwelcome gritty bite.

Steamed carrots with carrot top pesto

Author: Tim Hollands
In this recipe we're using what others leave out: the tops of carrots are edible and delicious, and they make a great pesto to drizzle over delicately steamed carrots.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Modern Australian
Servings 2 serves
Calories 439 kcal


  • Steamer
  • Food processor


  • 1 bunch Dutch carrots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ cup roasted almonds
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • ¼ cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon.
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp black and white sesame seeds


Carrot top pesto

  • Cut the fronds from the roots, leaving a 2cm green top on the carrot.
  • Spin the fronds dry, then strip the leaves from the tough stems.
  • Place the carrot top leaves in a food processor together with the roasted almonds, garlic clove and Parmesan, and blitz until the mixture has a small lentils' consistency. Add the lemon juice, and then slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto reaches a consistency that is to your liking. Season with salt and pepper.

Steamed carrots

  • Peel the carrots.
  • Half fill a pot that can fit a steamer with water and bring it to a boil.
  • Once the water is boiling, put the carrots into the steamer and place the steamer over the pot of water. Close with a lid.
  • Steam the carrots until al dente, about 5 – 10min, depending on the thickness of the carrot.
  • To serve, place the carrots onto a flat plate and generously spoon on the pesto. Top with cracked pepper, black and white sesame seeds.
Keyword carrots, parmesan, pesto