Easy Carrot Top Salad
Support your eye health and stretch the summer into fall with a fresh salad made from carrot greens!
What?! Yes, you eat carrot tops!
We typically think of root vegetables being more like autumn and winter ingredients, but I like to use them all year round. It seems only fitting that we transition from summer into fall using carrot greens.
Carrots are a gorgeous orange color and known to be rich in beta carotene, the plant source of Vitamin A. Carrot greens have a similar nutrient profile to their grounded other halves. Vitamin A is essential for eye health and works as an antioxidant in the body. Carrots are also great sources of Vitamins C and K, manganese, and many of the B vitamins (which support our mood!).
Vitamin A deserves a special shout-out. Many people take supplements with Vitamin A to combat glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration. It’s important if you take a general multivitamin or supplement for eye health to make sure the Vitamin A content is at least half beta carotene, the provitamin form naturally found in plant foods. The other source of Vitamin A, the preformed vitamin A (sometimes listed as retinyl palminate or retinyl acetate on an ingredient label), can actually be overdosed and cause you more harm than good. The recommended amount of Vitamin A per day is 700 micrograms for adult women and 900 micrograms for adult men. The tolerable upper limit is 3,000 micrograms per day.
After my post about cauliflower leaves I got very curious about what other vegetables lent themselves to being used more fully. I bought some beautiful carrots at a local farmer’s market (I made sure they were organic!) and took them home to experiment. I had some mint and basil in my herb garden, and voila!
The texture of carrot tops is similar to frisee lettuce. Carrot tops hold their texture relatively well when dressed. They are bitter and slightly astringent, but have a sweet finish. I found the stems to be less delightful, so feel free to compost that part. The greens can be a little grainy, so make sure to give them a good rinse with water and then use a salad spinner or paper towels to rid excess moisture. You can also sauté them with a bit of EVOO or blanch them before eating (blanching = boiling for a quick 1 - 2 minutes followed by submerging in an ice bath).
1 bunch of carrot greens, chopped finely
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 carrot, diced or sliced finely
1 lemon, juiced
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss. Can be served immediately or prepared a few hours ahead.
If you can’t find carrot tops, no worries. Use any other bitter greens you have in your fridge.