One of the things I’ve started doing to reduce waste in the kitchen is to make recipes out of the odds and ends I have laying around. Using absolutely everything I have also helps me to be more creative in the kitchen and more frugal! One of my favorite things to make with my food scraps is pesto. Pesto is so versatile, quick, and easy to make, and you can use whatever you have on hand to make it.
For my pesto here, I used radish tops, but good ol’ basil or carrot tops also work just fine. Carrot tops can be used in a salad, but radish tops are too tough for that, so this is a good alternative. For the hard cheese, you can use either Pecorino or Parmesan. For the nuts, you can use pine nuts if you want but they are pricey, and other nuts work too! Some good options include pistachios, sunflower seeds, almonds, or walnuts. Walnuts can impart a bitter taste, so if you use them, you may need to add more cheese! Carrot tops can also be bitter, so they’ll need to be balanced out with additional fresh herbs.
Approximately 5 loosely packed cups of leaves such as basil, radish tops, carrot tops, removed from the stem
2 oz hard cheese like Parmesan or Pecorino
2 oz nuts such as pine nuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, almonds, or walnuts
2 cloves garlic
5 Tbsp good quality olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
If using carrot tops, add ½ cup fresh herbs like basil
In a food processor, combine nuts, garlic, and cheese. Then, add remaining ingredients and process until desired consistency is achieved. If using a mortar and pestle, grind garlic and salt until smooth, then add coarsely ground leaves and grind into the garlic until a paste forms, then pound in olive oil, nuts, then finally cheese. Enjoy spread on toast or in pasta!
Serve in 1-2 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Put a thin layer of oil on the surface to keep longer in the fridge.