Carrot-Top and Cilantro Pesto

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Image of pasta with pesto from recipe: egg noodles, roasted corn and kale, and a nasturtium on top.

As I’ve been developing my own theory of a queer food sensibility, the one concept I keep returning to is “queer decadence on a budget,” the idea that food should feel and look exciting, luxurious, and “tempting” (as Mary Berry would say) and also be affordable, ethical, and accessible. What that looks like varies from dish to dish and person to person. The last pesto I posted here was Hazelnut-Nettle Pesto, which is very local, supporting local farmers and foragers, but is also pricey. )

In contrast, this carrot-top and cilantro pesto recipe uses up scraps (carrot tops), pantry staples (garlic, lemon, salt), and leftover herbs (cilantro)** and costs next to nothing. Thanks to the cilantro and lemon, this pesto has an intense, bright flavor that’s perfect for mixing with sweet summer vegetables like corn and carrots or earthy fall/winter vegetables like potatoes and kale. (Note: Patrons on my Patreon received my recipe for small-batch basil-walnut pesto this summer!

This holiday season…

Thanksgiving can be really complicated for a lot of queer and trans people. This year, instead of saying “let’s just have Queer Friendsgiving instead,” I wanted to share an alternative opinion: let’s burn Thanksgiving to the ground.

Queer Appalachia’s post on #NoThanks calls for donating the money you would typically spend on Thanksgiving dinner and investing it into Indigenous food ways, including Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance.

ndn.o makes public art installations about Native food/water inequity directly caused by the U.S. government. You can Venmo/Cashapp them: Otaes

Also, check out and support Interlocking Roots, “a network of QT*BIPoC farmers, foodies, and earth stewards. We center food and earthwork as decolonization tools to combat isolation, trauma, and accountability within our movement, community, and work spaces.”

Image of carrot-top and cilantro pesto in a yellow ramekin
Fabric by Fireside Textiles

Carrot-Top and Cilantro Pesto

Based on Alana Chernila’s “Carrot Pesto” from Eating from the Ground Up

Vegan, nut free, and gluten free

Yields ~2 cups (~3 servings)


  • ~2 cups (100 g) carrot greens, washed and roughly chopped
  • ~2 cups (135 g) fresh cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) olive oil


  • A food processor or blender (or you could use a mortar and pestle)
  • A container for the pesto
  • A silicon spatula


  1. Place the carrot greens, cilantro, and garlic in the food processor and process until the greens are finely chopped.
  2. Pour in the salt, lemon juice, and olive oil and process again, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Process until you have a thick pesto. Taste and add more salt as needed.

Serve as a sauce for pasta or pizza; season roasted vegetables by tossing in the pesto after cooking. The pasta photo featured here is beet pasta from La Pasta with roasted kale and corn.

Freezes well—store in freezer-safe plastic or glass container and pour olive oil over the pesto to cover the top before sealing the container. Defrost in refrigerator and add more oil as necessary.


*$5+ patrons receive bonus recipes, and $20+ patrons receive additional bonus recipes, plus stickers, etc.

**I love that where I live in the US, a giant bunch of cilantro is $1; I first started using cilantro in small-city Japan, where 4 sprigs cost 400 yen (~$4 at the time) and you could only buy it at the M’Za depachika or the grocery store in the train station. Making sure to use the leftovers is really important to me.



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