Yes, pesto does contain a lot of pantry staples that you can get for relatively cheap, like olive oil, salt & pepper, lemon juice, garlic. You can even find cheap grated Parmesan in the supermarket pasta aisle. If you’re lucky, you can grow your own basil, but if you buy a large bag form the market, you’re looking at at least $5 per bunch. The real kicker, though, is those bloody pine nuts! You’d think those things fell straight from golden angel butts, they’re so darn expensive. Why, Pine Nuts, WHY?
That homemade jar of pesto can add up to $10-12 if you’re not careful. So why even bother to make your own?
….It’s just too good. That’s why. Homemade pesto is ridiculously simple, ridiculously easy, and CAN be altered to be ridiculously cheap.
If you’ve ever bought a bunch of fresh, real carrots form the market, you can attest to how mouthwatering they are. Whether you steam ’em, roast ’em, grill ’em, or simply eat raw, they’re worth the trip to the market. Plus, the tops of those carrots actually pack a fair punch of flavour and are worth saving. Don’t throw them away! Make pesto!
Carrot tops are full of nutrients and deliver an ever-so-slight tang that I would compare to arugula, although the carrot tops aren’t quite as bitter, can be used in place of basil in pesto.
Take that, food waste!
So now that we’re being thrifty and recycling these carrot tops, what else can we substitute? Swap those bloody pine nuts with sunflower seeds! They have less of a nutty taste, but they still deliver a slight crunch and flavour boost. The garlic and lemon overwhelm the flavour of the nuts anyway, so why bother using the expensive version?
*If there really is a legitimate reason for the use of pine nuts in pesto, please, let me know! I love pine nuts in pesto and on salads etc, but I can never justify the price point for such tiny little nuts.
The best part of homemade pesto is that it can be customized to your tastebuds, so add a bit more garlic, or lemon, or whatever you fancy! If you’re feeling adventurous, make a double – nay, triple! – batch and freeze for later use. I like to keep a small jar or two handy in the freezer to grab a bit as needed. I’ve even tried freezing it in ice cube trays! Thaw a cube at room temperature or in the microwave, then add to sauces, sandwiches, dips, or marinades.
You’ll never buy store-bought again!
|Carrot-Top Pesto|| |
- 2½ cups loosely packed carrot tops, washed and dried thoroughly
- ½ cup loosely packed basil
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 2-4 Tbsp olive oil, plus more as needed
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine carrot tops, basil, sunflower seeds, garlic, Parmesan, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Slowly add in olive oil, pulsing until desired consistency is reached.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge. If mixture becomes too thick when cool, whisk with a little more olive oil to smooth out.