By author and chef Tom Hunt

Carrot tops are a nutritious and versatile ingredient that can be used to replace herbs in any dish. They also make a great garnish. They have a slightly bitter flavour on their own so we I to combine them with other herbs. Bitter greens often contain phytonutrients that are thought to be good for our health and help support our liver.

Ingredients (serves 4 as a side)

  • 250g carrots with leaves
  • 1 fennel with leaves
  • 40g pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 orange, zested then peeled
  • 75ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan (or nutritional yeast)

If you are unable to find carrots and fennel with their tops still attached, replace with 50g of basil.


For the pesto

  1. Remove the stalks and leaves from the carrots and fennel bulb and place them in a bowl of cold water for five minutes, remove and rinse under the tap.
  2. Bunch the tops together on a chopping board and chop finely.
  3. In a large pestle and mortar, crush the garlic to a paste. Add half the toasted pine nuts and crush, then add the orange zest and combine with the pestle.
  4. Add the carrot and fennel tops – or basil if using – and grind together into a rough paste, then stir in the olive oil and nutritional yeast or parmesan. You can store the pesto in a jar or container in the fridge for up to two weeks. If you don’t have a pestle and mortar, blend all the ingredients in a food processor until roughly chopped and combined, or simply chop everything finely and mix together.

For the salad

  1. Wash the carrots and fennel then shave them into slithers using a peeler. Slice the orange into rounds about 5-10mm thick, then cut the rounds into halves.
  2. Toss the carrot and fennel shavings with the pesto and orange pieces in a mixing bowl.
  3. Serve on a plate topped with pesto and decorated with the saved fennel and carrot tops.