A unique twist on pesto, brilliantly hued carrot pesto added to your favorite pasta makes a nutritious and beautiful side dish.
Why you’ll love it: Carrot pesto is unique, nutritious, and beautiful.
How long it takes: 25 minutes (includes time to cook pasta)
Equipment you’ll need: sharp knife, pasta pan, blender
Isn’t this pasta so pretty? The carrot-y pesto really is so unique and brilliantly colored. While basil pesto is a long-time favorite of mine, I love the idea of changing it up. Who says we have to stick to green? Why not carrots? They’re sweet, flavorful, and inexpensive.
However, since Heather’s first book came out, her life has changed dramatically. Her daughter Pia was five when she ended up in the ER with severe abdominal pains and dry heaving. Unsatisfied with the answers from physicians they saw, Heather went into momma bear mode and followed her gut — the instinctive feeling she had that this could be related to food sensitivities or allergies.
Through a combination of food diaries, elimination diets, food allergy testing, and doctor visits, she not only determined that Pia was experiencing food allergies, but so was she, as well as her other daughter. They went cold turkey and eliminated all the foods on their lists. This was not a small task. The entire family became gluten, dairy, egg, soy, and cane sugar free. Individual ingredients and foods were also avoided based on the results of each person’s test results.
The result? Heather writes:
“In our family, everything improved: our moods, the quality of our sleep, our energy levels, mobility, focus — the changes were dramatic and undeniable. We laugh more, have more energy and spend much less time (and money) at the doctor. Being sick is now the exception rather than the rule.”
Although we may not share allergens (N is severely allergic to sesame, and many recipes in this book include sesame or sesame oil), we do share experiences and fears. I look forward to digging further into Heather’s story – her book not only contains tons of great recipes but it also includes over 55 pages of fantastic advice, not only for determining allergens, but also for maintaining normalcy, school lunch prep, cooking dinner with your kids, eating out, and more. Any mom of a kid with food allergies knows how hard some of these situations can be. I’m definitely going to be putting some of Heather’s advice into use as N starts school in the fall.
Even if you’re lucky enough to have a family free of food allergies, this book contains over 150 recipes that you’re sure to love. And as always, you can adapt them to fit your own lifestyle. For me, that meant using regular pasta for this recipe instead of gluten-free as the recipe was written. Aside from the carrot pesto, a few of the other recipes calling my name are:
- Hot Spinach, Strawberry and Bacon Salad
- Beet Salad with Parsley-Pumpkin Seed Pesto and Fresh Mint
- Quinoa with Oven-Dried Tomatoes and Smoky Tomato Vinaigrette
- Portobello Mushroom Burgers with Cream Red Pepper Spread and Roasted Shallots and Cherry Tomatoes
- Slow-Braised Pork Ragù
- Savory Quinoa Breakfast Bowl with Bacon, Onion, and Greens
And basically every other recipe in the book.
Still with me? I don’t think I’ve ever gone on and on so much during a book review, but as you know, food allergies are point of passion for me. Should we talk about this gorgeous and unique carrot pesto?
About this Pesto
This is unlike any pesto you’ve ever tried before. It’s probably a stretch to even call it pesto. It’s nut-free (yay!) and it’s also basil free. There are only four simple ingredients in this pesto, not counting salt and water.
Look for the printable recipe card with complete directions and nutrition information at the end of this post.
What You’ll Need
- Carrots: The star player in this pesto, you’ll need about 4 cups of sliced raw carrots, or about a pound of carrots.
- Garlic: The recipe calls for three cloves. This makes a pretty garlicky pesto. It’s easy to decrease (or increase!) the garlic if you like.
- Rice Vinegar: This mild vinegar enhances the flavor of the carrots, giving them just a bit of tang.
- Olive Oil: Since this is such a simple no-frills ingredient list, make sure to use your best olive oil so the flavor can shine (this olive oil is one of my favorites).
How to Make Carrot Pesto
Get a pot of salted water boiling on the stove. While it’s coming to a boil, peel or scrub the carrots and slice them into one inch pieces.
Boil the carrots until they’re tender, about 10 minutes. Scoop the carrots out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon or a spider strainer. Save that boiling water because now you can add the pasta to the water to cook.
Add the carrots to a blender, along with the garlic, vinegar, and olive oil. Process until the pesto is very smooth. Taste it and season with salt, if needed.
When the pasta is finished cooking (al dente), return it to the pot and stir in the pesto, until the pasta is coated. So simple!
Chive flowers are optional, but aren’t they pretty?
More nut-free pestos
- kosher salt
- 4 cups carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 3 garlic cloves, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 pound gluten-free pasta (choose your favorite type of pasta)
- chives and edible flowers for garnish (optional)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the carrots to the pot and boil them for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the carrots from the water, shaking off the extra water; don’t discard the cooking water.
- Place the drained carrots in a blender and add the garlic, vinegar, and oil. Puree until very smooth. Season generously with salt.
- Bring the pot of water back to a boil and add the pasta. Cook just to al dente (a few minutes short of the manufacturer’s directions). When the pasta is cooked, reserve a half cup of cooking water, drain and return the pasta to the empty pot. Add the carrot pesto and toss to coat. Add reserved cooking water if necessary to create a sauce.
- Transfer the past to a serving platter, garnish with edible flowers and chives, if desired, and serve hot.
- Reprinted from Pure Delicious by arrangement with Pam Krauss Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2016, Heather Christo LLC.
- Pesto can be made in a food processor but it won’t be quite as smooth.
- Pesto can be served with any type of pasta, including gluten-free or regular.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.