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Don't toss the carrot tops

Health and Wellness author Cheryl Gordon shares her hearty, healthy pesto recipe
Stock Photo

In yoga philosophy, there are several suggestions for living a happier and simpler life. We are encouraged to practice non-greediness (aparigraha) or santosha (contentment). I was raised on a farm and those pioneer ideals of always using everything fully and embracing what nature gifted us are already ingrained.

So it’s harvest time in my garden. When you are done admiring my special gardening hat, you may note the lush greenery. Everywhere. And my farm roots and my yoga training insist that I find a use for it all!

Take carrots, for instance. We traditionally only focus on the root, but the lacy green tops are quite edible. I chop them into salads, whip them up in my greens smoothies and I still have tons more. So today I got creative.

Vegan Carrot Top Pesto

After cutting the greens from the carrots, and removing the larger, tougher stems (little ones are fine), I rough chopped the greens until I had about 3 cups.

Out came my trusty food processor. This is one of the hardest working tools in my kitchen and I’m always surprised that so many cooks don’t invest in one. It’s invaluable for making hummus, muffins, lentil burgers, grinding nuts and chopping veggies. Mine is a $150 model and it’s worth the extra to get the precise cutting. Here, you see the 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds and one peeled clove of garlic ready to go for a whirl.

Now add the carrot tops. You will see there are a lot of greens in that bowl. Add ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, ½ cup good extra virgin olive oil and generous amounts of salt and freshly ground pepper. You can adjust the seasoning later so use less than you think at first.


cheryl-mixturePesto mixture. Submitted Photo
At left is what the mixture looks like after spinning, and scraping the sides of the bowl down, and spinning again and again. Adjust the olive oil and seasonings as you go.


Pour into a glass storage container and cover with a thin layer of olive oil to keep the colour bright. It will store covered in the fridge for a month or in the freezer for up to 3.

What do you do with all that pesto? Add it to cooked pasta (1/4 cup at a time, then taste); flavour salad dressings; use it on cooked veggies or meat or make …..





Smoked Tofu Panini Sandwiches

 1.     Prepare barbecue tofu:  Slice one block smoked tofu (extra firm; available at any grocery store) into ¼” pieces and marinate in barbecue sauce for a few minutes. Broil or barbecue slices until browned (the tofu is all ready to eat so you’re just adding flavour here).
 2.    Using a hearty multi-grain bread, slice two pieces for each sandwich. Spread generously with the pesto.  
 3.    Thinly slice a garden ripe tomato and layer over the pesto, followed by a single layer of tofu. Top with second slice of bread.
 4.    Using a panini press, grill the sandwiches until heated through. Alternatively, keep the barbecue hot and use a sheet pan on the grill. Make sure it’s well-oiled and place sandwich on pan. Push down with metal flipper to compress sandwich a bit. Flip after the bottom gets nicely browned and repeat technique.
 5.    Serve with basil aioli (blend chopped fresh basil with mayo or vegan mayonnaise) for dipping.