Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto

I think carrots are the most underrated fall vegetable. They don’t get a lot of love, but picked after the first frost? So good. They also add so much color to the table!

This beautiful side dish will be a treat whether you’re making it for a holiday or a weeknight! It’s ready in about a half hour, and the pesto can bed made ahead, so it’s a no-fuss side that looks like you’ve put a lot of effort into it.

A close up of roasted carrot sticks in a white serving dish topped with pesto.

This recipe uses both the carrot and the carrot top, so it’s a great option if you’re trying to be conscious of food waste – we use the whole plant here!

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Ingredients

For the carrots:

  • 1 lb. carrots, cut into quarters lengthwise
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the pesto:

  • 1 clove of garlic, unpeeled
  • 3 Tablespoons walnuts
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups carrot top leaves
A close up of roasted carrot sticks in a white serving dish topped with pesto.

How to Make Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto

  • This recipe has two parts: the carrots and the pesto. The best place to start is with prepping the carrots.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Make sure the carrots are well washed, the tops are cut off, and peeled, if needed. I find that carrots we get from the farm don’t need to be peeled, but store-bough ones that have been out of the ground longer benefit from peeling. Once they’re washed, cut them lengthwise in half and then in half again to make sticks.
  • Spread out the carrots on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with 1 tablespoon of olive oil – I usually use my hands to toss them to make sure everything is covered – and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
  • Roast in the oven to 20-30 minutes, until the carrots are lightly caramelized.
  • While the carrots cook is a great time to make the pesto!
  • In a small nonstick skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts for 2-3 minutes. You want them to be fragrant and starting to brown, but be careful not to burn them! When they’re done, add them to the bowl of a food processor.
  • Then it’s time to toast the garlic. Add the unpeeled garlic to the skillet and toast for 1 minute, flip and toast for another minute. Remove the peel (it should be pretty easy after toasting!) and add to the food processor too.
  • Then add the parmesan and oil to the bowl of the food processor. Turn the food processor on and let it process until the mixture is smooth.
  • Add the carrot top greens – make sure they’re washed and the stems have been removed! – and process again, until a paste forms. Scoop the pesto into a bowl.
  • When the carrots are done cooking, transfer them to a serving dish and top with the pesto to taste. You probably will have plenty of pesto left over!
A close up picture of a bowl of pesto with a spoon in it. A dish of roasted carrot sticks in a white serving dish topped with pesto is in the background.

Top Tips

Can I use store-bought pesto instead?

Absolutely! When we get carrots in our farm share, they have the tops included and I hate to waste them. Carrot top pesto is an easy way to use them up so it’s something I end up making frequently! If you’re carrots don’t have the greens (or just want to speed up prep time), store-bought basil peso will be just as flavorful!

Can I use frozen carrots in this recipe?

I don’t recommend using frozen carrots for this recipe. I find that frozen carrots don’t have the same texture or nice caramelization when roasted. Go with fresh carrots for this recipe!

Can you make this ahead?

The pesto can be prepared 2-3 days ahead of time! I would recommend cooking the carrots when you’re ready to eat. They only take 20-30 minutes – and that time is very hands-off if you’ve already made the pesto!

An overhead picture of roasted carrot sticks in a white serving dish topped with pesto.

More Great Vegetable Dishes for Thanksgiving

I just love loading up the Thanksgiving table with beautiful vegetable dishes. My kids love green beans, so Cheesy Green Bean Casserole or Honey Garlic Green Beans always make an appearance on our menu. Sautéed Spinach with Bacon is also one of our go-tos!

For more color on the table, Sweet Potatoes with Candied Pecans and Roasted Carrots with Honey and Thyme are great options. Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Salad is also full of color and perfect for Thanksgiving.

Here are more Side Dish recipes:

Recipe for Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto

Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto

Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto

Yield: 4-6 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

For the carrots:

  • 1 lb. carrots, cut into quarters lengthwise
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the pesto:

  • 1 clove of garlic, unpeeled
  • 3 Tablespoons walnuts
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups carrot top leaves

Instructions

    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Spread the carrots on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
    3. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until the carrots are lightly caramelized.
    4. While the carrots cook, make the pesto. In a small nonstick skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a food processor.
    5. Add the unpeeled garlic to the skillet and toast for 1 minute, flip and toast for another minute. Peel and add to the food processor, along with the parmesan and olive oil.
    6. Process until smooth. Add the carrot top greens and process again, until a paste forms.
    7. Serve carrots topped with pesto, to taste.

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