While clementine juice plays brilliantly off of the earthy and sweet flavor of orange and red carrots, I felt like something was missing when solely basting them in juice. Carrot top pesto was my answer. For the longest time I avoided making carrot top pesto—for whatever reason, I felt like it was cliché. But it all made sense when I paired the pesto with these carrots. Its beautiful color, rich flavor, and chunky-sauciness took this from a pretty good side to a party-worthy standout. The ginger is subtle, but the za’atar adds ’nuff zing. If clementines aren’t available, you can use navel oranges, though they aren’t as sweet.
8 large carrots with tops (between 3 and 4½ ounces each)
¼ cup fresh clementine juice
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
3 tablespoons Umami Powder
⅓ cup chopped toasted walnuts, skin removed
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 heaping tablespoons white miso paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more as needed
Freshly ground white pepper
1 heaping teaspoon lemon zest, for garnish
1 heaping tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Za’atar , for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Separate the carrots and their green tops and chop the tops. Measure out 2 cups of the tops and set aside (reserve the rest for another use or discard them). Spread the carrots in a single layer in a large baking dish.
In a small bowl, combine the clementine juice, 2 tablespoons of the oil, the ginger, and salt and mix well with a fork to combine. Pour the mixture over the carrots and slather them well with clean hands. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and roast until the carrots are just starting to become tender, about 45 minutes. Remove the foil, gently turn the carrots with a fork to further coat them with the oil mixture, and return to the oven, uncovered, until fork-tender and browning, about 15 more minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the carrot tops, umami powder, walnuts, garlic, miso, and lemon juice. Blend to combine. With the machine running, slowly pour in the remaining ½ cup olive oil through the feed tube and process until combined. Transfer the pesto to a small bowl and add enough water to loosen it up a bit (it should be thick but not pasty). Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Transfer to a small bowl for serving.
Transfer the carrots to a platter and sprinkle with the lemon zest, parsley, and za’atar. Serve with the bowl of pesto alongside.