Roast Vegetable & Carrot Top Pesto Salad

I could eat a salad for almost every meal. Admittedly, a smoothie is just a blended fruit salad and there isn’t a morning in my home which goes by without one. One of my dearest friends calls a good salad a “ralad”, i.e. a rad salad. All salads should be ralads and there’s very little excuse to make those bland lettuce, cucumber and tomato (without dressing) versions with all of the choice we’re now afforded.

So let’s start with a good foundation.
Kale is no longer a “new” leafy green but its popularity has not waned. Its fame is not for nothing though, as kale is an incredible source of fibre, nutrients, vitamins, folate and magnesium. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef, and more calcium than milk. Sure, kale is very low in calories but it’s a cool statistic to throw out at dinner parties* when people are pushing this hardy green leaf aside. It is also very high in Vitamin K, C and A. We massaged our kale with a little lemon juice to break down some of the cellulose and soften it into a wonderful base.

(*Warning: some people at parties aren’t as entertained by stats as I am. Sometimes they think you’re being obnoxious; or worse, boring!)

We looked for some beautiful seasonal vegetables and found these rainbow carrots, beetroot and turnips – all warming root vegetables and perfect to bring a salad into Winter. We often order produce from Harvest of Hope by Abalimi Bezekhaya who support small-scale farmers growing food in Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Philppi and Gugulethu. This amazing project helps facilitate access to a reliable market for these micro-farmers through their weekly veggie boxes. These vegetables are received with their leaves and are often a little soily. It’s really nice to reconnect to the farm itself in a small way. That said, I’m sometimes at a loss as to what to do with my leaves. I don’t have a garden to create compost for and after a busy weekday it’s sometimes difficult to be creative. Do I just keep adding them to smoothies? But what about the carrot leaves?

Taking a little inspiration from a pop-up café we used to frequent, we put our carrot tops into a food processor with all the other ingredients one might use in a pesto and voila! This green, bright and zesty pesto lifted this salad into the ralad category and we couldn’t stop munching it. Carrot tops contain 6 times the vitamin C of the root. The tops of the carrots are loaded with potassium which can make them bitter, but this perfectly balances the sweetness of our roasted roots.

This Roast Vegetable & Carrot Top Pesto salad is a wonderful meal to make the night before and take to work the next day. The pesto will stay fresh in a jar in the fridge for a few days too, so you can keep adding this super pesto to anything else you make.

Recipe

Ingredients
  • Carrot Top Pesto
  • 1 Small Garlic Clove
  • 1/2 lemon; Juiced
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Pine Nuts or Walnuts
  • Tops of 1 bunch of carrots
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Roasted Veg
  • 3 Beetroot; chopped
  • 3 Turnips; chopped
  • 3-4 Rainbow Carrots; sliced in rounds
  • 3 Handfuls of Kale
  • 2tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Lemon; Juiced
Garnish
  • Chickpea Sprouts
  • Nasturtium Leaves
  • Edible Flowers

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
  2. Prep your vegetables; chop the beetroot, turnips and carrots and place in a bowl. Try to keep them equal in size to ensure they cook at the same speed.
  3. Drizzle the vegetables with coconut oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Toss until evenly coated. Scatter the vegetables on a lined baking sheet and roast for 25-30min.
  5. While your vegetables are roasting, place your kale in a large bowl with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Massage the kale gently for approximately 3min to break down the cellulose structure. You’ll notice the kale shrinking in size and become silky. Set aside.
  6. To make the pesto, place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until fully combined, and a pesto texture is achieved.
  7. Once your vegetables are finished cooking; remove from the oven and let cool.
  8. To plate; start with a base of massaged kale, top with roast veggies and a drizzle of carrot top pesto. Finish off with a handful of chickpea sprouts, nasturtium leaves, and edible flowers.
  9. Enjoy!