Carrot Pesto

Pesto is one of those ingredients that screams summertime! The bland, and often expensive, jars in the supermarket just don't do this flavor powerhouse justice! Prior to gardening and making our own pesto, I had thought "what's the big deal? I don't understand the hype." However, once we made our first batch of pesto from scratch, I changed my mind!

Our first batch of pesto was made from a basil houseplant we kept in our apartment! We kept that tiny plant alive for over a year in a sunny window on top of my husband's desk. As long as you keep the plant from flowering, it will continue to grow, getting bushier and bushier!

If you and houseplants don't get along, you can still have delicious pesto year round, just make a batch (or three) using fresh ingredients during the summer and freeze them in tablespoon-sized mounds on a baking sheet before transferring them to a bag or jar for long term storage. Then, whenever you're in the mood for some pesto pasta or a pesto and chicken panini, thaw a cube or two and savor the flavor of summertime. 

This summer, we plan to trial a new variety of basil called "Lettuce Leaf Basil" which has larger leaves, meaning we can make more pesto from one cutting of the plant! Looking forward to all the ways we can use pesto in the coming months!

This particular pesto recipe adds in a carrot, but could also incorporate veggies like kale, or more basil! I love that it doesn't use a ton of oil, but is still a great consistency to spread on my food. 

Ingredients in Carrot Pesto

Carrots - adding in extra vitamins and nutrients, you could really use any veggie you have on hand here, as long as it doesn't have such a flavor that it would overpower the basil. We've also used kale or added in more basil! 

Fresh Basil - Basil here is the base flavor for this recipe, so you do need to use some element of basil in the recipe. In a pinch, you could use 2 TBSP dried basil instead, but expect the color to be more gray and the flavor to be slightly less powerful. I would recommend fresh, if at all possible, but have definitely used dried before. 

Garlic  - also a pesto staple. Use fresh cloves, I wouldn't recommend using garlic powder in its place. 

Walnuts - Finding out I could use walnuts to make pesto was a game changer. When many other recipes recommended using pine nuts, I always passed them by - who ever has a bag of pine nuts hanging out in their pantry? Walnuts are much more economical, versatile and can be sourced locally (though we haven't found a walnut farmer in northeast Wisconsin, let me know if you've got the name of one I could call). 

Parmesan - a good local Parmesan cheese would taste best in this recipe (we love Kickaas Cheese out of Green Bay). If you don't have Parmesan, an Asiago would also do well. If you're avoiding dairy, you could use nutritional yeast in place of a dairy cheese. 

Salt - While salt adds flavor, you could omit this if you are avoiding excess sodium. We feed our baby what we eat, so we leave the salt out of this recipe when preparing it, and add it to the final product on our plates if we feel it needs that. 

"Cooking" Instructions:

Step OneIn the Blender
Place all of the ingredients in the blender and process until a paste forms. 

Serve this on toast with a Vine and Virtue Farm egg, in pasta or on a sandwich. Be creative and enjoy! Store leftovers in a jar in the fridge for up to a week. 

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