I remember the moment, sometime in the mid-1970s, when my mom discovered pesto. What a happy day that was! She of course made it with basil, and since our family hadn’t been introduced to a food processor, she pulverized the basil with a mortar and pestle. So exotic, as if we had been let in on a mysterious culinary secret. We ate pesto often, always on pasta, and never tired of it. I continued to make pesto when I left home, but I cheated and used a food processor. When my daughter, to my utter befuddlement, turned into a “picky” eater, pesto saved the day. She loved it, despite the bold flavors. I could put pesto on all of the beige food she ate, and convince myself that she was eating her vegetables. She is now one of the most adventurous eaters I know. I like to think that pesto allowed her taste buds to embrace more complicated flavors when the time was right.
Can pesto be made from anything other than basil? Yes! The possibility that carrot tops could be eaten by any species other than rabbits came to me when I started shopping at our local farmers market. I was often accosted by a strange woman wearing a face mask. She appeared out of nowhere, as I was purchasing carrots, and always asked if she could have the tops. I thought she was a bit off her rocker, and imagined her going home to make a carrot-top witch’s brew to cure an ailment. Now I think she may simply have been ahead of her time, and went home to make carrot-top pesto.
I don’t give the tops away anymore! There is something wonderful, almost virtuous, about eating a vegetable top to toe. Roasted carrots with carrot-top pesto are as tasty as they are visually appealing. Like basil pesto, carrot-top pesto is good on almost everything. It is good on all vegetables whether they are roasted, steamed, or blanched. It dresses up roasted chicken, sauteed scallops, and lamb chops. I sometimes put a spoonful in creamy potato soup, or a chunky vegetable stew. And if you have a picky eater at your house, it’s right at home stirred into a big bowl of pasta.
Rinse three Cured Lemon slices, and then coarsely chop them.