Carrot Risotto with Carrot Top Pesto

I have been very busy of late trying out lots of recipes from the bounty from my veg garden.  So from now until I run out of recipes I will post one recipe a week (well day job allowing – it has been very hectic of late) to show you all the delicious meals I have been enjoying with my fresh ingredients.

Carrots 1

Today is a recipe I tried a few weeks ago when my carrots were popping their little heads out of the ground all ready to be eaten.  I utalised both the carrots (even though they were a bit teeny and crooked) and the carrot tops.  All those luscious green fronds were way too big and bushy to just throw away!  So here is my roasted carrot risotto with carrot top pesto:

Carrot Risotto with Carrot Top Pesto

I can’t for the life of my remember where I got the recipe from so I will just explain how I made this yummy dish as best I can so the ingredients are for 3 servings:

3 chopped shallots
150g risotto rice
about 10 of my mini home grown carrots for the puree and 10 chopped up in bite sized chunks for the risotto
about 1litre of chicken stock
handful of fresh chopped thyme

Carrot Top Pesto
Bunch of fresh green carrot tops
50g Walnuts
30g Parmesan Cheese
2 garlic cloves
juice of 1/2 lemon
Olive oil

carrot risotto

Right, so for the risotto you make a roasted carrot puree so firstly I chopped all the carrots into halves and roasted them for around 40 minutes.  I then pureed the carrots with a touch of cream and a small bunch of thyme in a blender, reserving a few carrot halves for the garnish.  In a frying pan I fried the shallots and carrots in some butter until the shallots were softened, then added the risotto rice coating it with the butter.  Once the rice had turned translucent I added a ladle of the chicken stock.  This is the part that confuses most people with risotto, but I have never had a problem.  I kept adding the stock a ladle at a time, adding the next ladle once the one before had been all sucked up by the rice.  It usually takes me around 20 minutes of ladling and stirring and the rice sucking in the liquid for the rice to be cooked properly.  I don’t really time it, but I stop adding stock once the rice is cooked.  Sometimes it takes all the stock and then some more hot water to cook, other times I have stock left over and the rice is cooked perfectly.  So it is best to test as you go along.  Once the rice was finished I then stirred in the carrot puree.  This helps to loosen the risotto and make it silky and smooth.

The carrot top pesto is made with all the ingredients whizzed in a blender and olive oil added until it is a pesto consistency (or to how you like it).  I drizzled the pesto over the top of the risotto and sprinkled over some Parmesan cheese to finish and a roasted carrot to garnish.

The carrot top pesto was a taste sensation.  With the carroty risotto it gave a glorious fresh carrot burst to the dish, like carrots on steroids.  I am a carrot top convert.  I like shredding up the carrot tops and adding to a salad for a fresh burst of flavour.  The pesto really cuts through the richness of the risotto.  I still cannot get over how good home grown vegetables taste.  My parents commented “this is how carrots used to taste when we were little”.  So much more full of flavour than the supermarket carrots I have been used to.  Which gets me thinking, if children ate home grown vegetables all the time, I am sure that they would LOVE vegetables and not leave them on their plates!

Until next time, happy gardening!


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