Veg top pesto

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If you often find yourself binning the beautiful leaves and tops from your vegetables, this veg top pesto recipe is for you. Beetroot leaves, carrot tops and radish leaves all make a superb base for this fragrant, adaptable pesto, and throwing in a few herbs that may be lingering in the fridge will only be a welcome addition. Read Victoria's feature for further tips on using up veg tops and leaves.

First published in 2019

Struggling to find a use for peppery radish greens once you’ve finished dunking the jewel-bright vegetables into fancy butters or dips? Or how about that long swishy green tail of fronds on the end of market-bought carrots, or turnips, or beetroot tops, or celery leaves, or… well, you get the picture. This fit-all pesto is a fantastic way to get the best out of your veg tops.




  • 50g of pine nuts, these are traditional, but if preferred you can use hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, or any other nuts you find lurking in the kitchen cupboards
  • 80g of vegetable tops, you can use all of one, a mixture of some, or add in some soft herbs (like basil or parsley) if you don’t have quite enough
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 30g of Parmesan, grated (use a similar cheese using vegetable rennet if serving to vegetarians)
  • extra virgin olive oil, you'll need 5–7 tbsp depending on the veg tops used
  • salt
  • pepper
  • lemon juice
  • 1 pinch of sugar


  • Food processor


Very lightly toast the nuts – you don’t want them to go too dark, or the pesto won’t be creamy
Blitz all the ingredients together in a food processor and taste for seasoning, adjusting if necessary. Alternatively, you can pound everything into a rough paste in a pestle and mortar
I always like to add a generous spritz of lemon to liven up my pesto and have found a small pinch of sugar nicely rounds out the slight bitterness found in some veg tops, but this is personal taste territory, so taste before adding
First published in 2019

Victoria is a London-based food writer and recipe developer. She was the Roald Dahl Museum’s first ever Gastronomic Writer in Residence and has written six books, including her latest, Too Good To Waste.

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