Winter salad with carrot and fennel top pesto
Carrot tops are a nutritious and versatile ingredient that can be used to replace herbs in any dish—though they have a slightly bitter flavour on their own, so I like to combine them with other herbs. They also make a great garnish.
250g carrots with leaves
1 fennel bulb with fronds
40g stale bread
Approx 100ml extra virgin olive oil
1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
½ orange, zested then peeled
1 tbsp nutritional yeast or grated parmesan
To make the pesto: remove the stalks and leaves from the carrots and fennel bulb and place them in a bowl of cold water for 5 mins. Remove them from the water and rinse them under the tap. Shake dry and put a couple of sprigs aside to decorate the final dish. Bunch the tops together on a chopping board and chop finely.
Chop or crush the stale bread into large breadcrumbs, drizzle with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt and heat in a dry pan until they become a little crunchy and toasted.
Next, in a large pestle and mortar, crush the garlic to a paste. Add the toasted breadcrumbs and the orange zest, and combine with the pestle. Add the carrot and fennel tops or basil if using, grind together into a rough paste, then stir in the olive oil and nutritional yeast or parmesan. This can be stored in a jar or container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If you don’t have a pestle and mortar, pulse blend all the ingredients in a food processor until roughly chopped and combined or simply chop everything finely and mix together.
To make the salad: wash the carrots and fennel, then shave them into slithers using a mandoline or peeler. Slice the orange into rounds about 5-10mm thick, then cut the rounds into halves. Toss the carrot and fennel shavings with the pesto and orange pieces in a mixing bowl.
Serve on a plate topped with pesto and decorated with the saved fennel and carrot tops.
ALTERNATIVE: If you are unable to find carrots and fennel with their tops still attached, replace with 50g of basil. The stale bread can also be replaced with toasted pine nuts, if you prefer.
Recipe: Tom Hunt