Cashew and Carrot Leaf Pesto

By Resident Chef: Harvey Pincis

We, human beings worldwide, waste about 1/3 of all food grown, before it reaches our table. In some cases it through inadequate storage and of course wars and other political quarrels can lead to food insecurity, Yemen and Venezuela spring to mind as current examples. In the home we think nothing of binning banana peel, though in Jamaica they make a bread/cake from the edible peel. We, as humans are not always very rational and we will use orange and lemon zest in our cooking, make marmalades with citrus peel, yet we, or farmers dispose of much that is both edible and nutritious. 


A candidate to illustrate the point are the leaves that grow above the edible carrot root and in Sultan’s ‘Farmers market’ section this week I found bunches of baby carrots with an impressive amount of foliage as part of the deal. They contain around six times more vitamin C than the root, as well as lots of potassium, calcium and phytonutrients. Eaten alone they are bitter and while an excellent aid to digestion, are best balanced with other ingredients. Pestos, ground leaves with oil are the most common use and very popular in parts of South America. With increased urban living we sometimes neglect what is around us and can benefit us in many ways, both for health and pleasure.



50g toasted cashews or almonds (in truth while nuts will work, just there will be a different taste of course – nut adds a nice depth to the mix as well as having oils which help to combine the ingredients)

1 garlic clove

150g loosely packed carrot leaves

25g fresh parsley

50g grated Pecorino Romano cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano

1/8 tsp sea/coarse salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


After toasting the nuts lightly, it is a good idea to keep them moving in a pan so they do not burn and set aside to cool. Once cool, pulse the nuts in a food processor with the garlic until they combine. Then add the carrot leaves, parsley, cheese, salt and pepper until all the ingredients combine. Then drizzle in the olive oil and pulse, keep adding the oil until a smooth paste is achieved.


Note that the above quantities are approximate and stated particularly for those who prefer to have a guide, rather than judge by feeling. In either case, it is good to test the mixture to judge the right balance of tastes, which can be highly individual. 


Pulsing the mixture in a food processor is of coarse a very quick way of making the pesto, though using a pestle and mortar with give a much more silky, smooth consistency. 


The above makes one batch, but pestos of many kinds can be prepared in bulk and kept in the freezer for future use. The two small bunches of baby carrots the author bought to make a side dish for a beef fillet, yielded more than six times the amount of leaves than for the one batch, but the quantities were scaled up and portioned out in small containers for future use.


Bon Appétit!   



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