You know how some days, even the most mundane tasks seem incredibly daunting?  Laundry.  Making a pot of coffee.  Putting on shoes.  And to top it off, its super cold and blustery outside.  You know those days.  Yesterday was one of those days for me.  Everything seemed to require a huge amount of energy and focus.  When it came to making dinner at the end of the day, I needed something simple that could all come together in one pot, and I needed to use up some of the lovely vegetables from our CSA delivery.  I had kale and parsnips left over from last week’s delivery, and this week, they sent a gorgeous bunch of carrots, complete with their leafy tops.

I do not like throwing away usable food.  I cringe when I see perfectly good food, tossed in the can.  I always cook the greens from beets.  I use the stems of chard as one would use celery. I scrape every last trace of peanut butter from the jar before I recycle it (no need to rinse the jar out in our house!).  I feel terribly guilty for throwing away carrot tops in the past, simply because I couldn’t think of a use for them, and something inside me felt pretty stubborn about doing it again this time.  After staring blankly (or focusing, as I like to think of it) at the bunch of carrots laying on my counter for several minutes, this little gem came to me.

This recipe is full of nutritional and comforty goodness.  It makes a lot, and is pretty yummy as leftovers.  Also, just so you know, the pesto recipe will create about 1-1/2 cups, whereas you only need 1-1/4 cups for the recipe.  Keep the leftover pesto and use as a spread on sandwiches, or toast, or anything, really.  Try this recipe out the next time you have a rough day- It’s perfect for stuffing your face eating while curled up on the couch and watching Cheers reruns (I miss Coach!!!) at the end of a long, hard (ok, not hard, but definitely cold) day.

THE WHOLE CARROT (aka Carrot, Parsnip, Kale, and White Bean Quinoa Bowl w/Carrot-Top Pesto)


  • 5-6 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 3-4 parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 bunch of kale, stems removed, roughly chopped
  • ½ of white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 can of white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups of cooked quinoa
  • 3 T olive oil, separated
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1 ¼ cups Carrot-Top Pesto (see ingredients below)

For the Carrot-Top Pesto:

  • The leafy “tops” of about 6 carrots, thoroughly cleaned and dried
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/3 cup toasted cashews
  • ½ cup olive oil, plus ½ T for cooking
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • dash of paprika
  • pepper to taste


  • Preheat the oven to 450°.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil.  Toss carrots and parsnips with 2 T olive oil, thyme, sage, salt and pepper.  Put in oven and cook for 15 minutes.  Toss the veggies (so they cook evenly) and cook for another 10 minutes.
  • While the carrots and parsnips are roasting, you can make the Carrot-Top Pesto.  In a large shallow saucepan, heat 1 T olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute.  Add the carrot tops and toss with the garlic.  Cook the greens until slightly wilted, about 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat.  Put the cashews in your food processor, and pulse until finely chopped.  Add the cooked carrot tops and garlic and process for about 30 seconds.  Add the rest of the ingredients and puree until smooth.  If it is too dry, add a little vegetable broth or oil to thin it out.  If it is too liquidy, take a couple of the kale leaves and mix it in until you have the right “pesto-ish” consistency.  You may need to add salt and pepper to suit your tastes.
  • In the same saucepan used for the carrot-tops, heat 1 T olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until slightly translucent.  Add the white beans and kale, stirring occasionally until kale is wilted.  If you find that it is sticking to the pan, use about ¼ cup of water or vegetable broth to deglaze and cook until liquid is gone, and lower heat (to the lowest setting).  Add the carrots, parsnips, and quinoa and mix to combine.  Mix in the pesto and cover the pan, letting it heat up for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and serve!

The Whole Carrot (aka Carrot, Parsnip, Kale, and White Bean Quinoa Bowl w/Carrot-Top Pesto)

Photos taken by Chris Miller

© Kristy Turner and Keepin’ It Kind, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material (content and images) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kristy Turner and Keepin’ It Kind with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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