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Lentils and Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto

The best part about this recipe is that it’s many recipes in one! The roasted carrots and pesto are a fantastic side on their own but become a hearty plant-based meal when served on top of savory lentils. Make a batch of this pesto whenever you have carrots and want to use up the tops. Put it all together for a satisfying dish that can be served warm or at room temperature.

NOTE: The pesto can be made a day in advance then refrigerated; return to room temperature 1 hour before serving. Double the recipe to keep on hand and put it on pasta or other roasted veggies.

*Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

Carrot Top Pesto:
Carrot tops from 1 bunch carrots
3 tablespoons chopped roasted, unsalted cashews
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup packed chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Lentils: 
1 1/2 cups dried green lentils
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

Roasted Carrots:
2 bunches (about 24 ounces) small carrots (tops reserved for pesto)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

The best part about this recipe is that it’s many recipes in one! The roasted carrots and pesto are a fantastic side on their own but become a hearty plant-based meal when served on top of savory lentils. Make a batch of this pesto whenever you have carrots and want to use up the tops. Put it all together for a satisfying dish that can be served warm or at room temperature.

NOTE: The pesto can be made a day in advance then refrigerated; return to room temperature 1 hour before serving. Double the recipe to keep on hand and put it on pasta or other roasted veggies.

*Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

Carrot Top Pesto:
Carrot tops from 1 bunch carrots
3 tablespoons chopped roasted, unsalted cashews
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup packed chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Lentils: 
1 1/2 cups dried green lentils
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

Roasted Carrots:
2 bunches (about 24 ounces) small carrots (tops reserved for pesto)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

METHOD

To make the carrot top pesto, remove the tender leaves from the carrot tops and rinse in a colander; you should have 2 cups (packed). Set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, process the garlic and nuts in a food processor until very finely chopped. Add the reserved carrot tops, cilantro, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and process until it becomes a coarse purée. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and continue to process until Add olive oil and pulse until combined. Taste and season with more salt and pepper and lemon juice if desired.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. 

To make the lentils, in a saucepan over high heat, bring 6 cups water, the lentils, and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally and skimming any scum from the top, until the lentils are tender but retain their shape, 20 to 30 minutes (the amount of time depends on how fresh the lentils are). Drain in a colander, then return to the pan. Stir in the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

While the lentils are cooking, roast the vegetables. Trim and peel the carrots. Cut in half lengthwise if medium-sized or quarter if large. On a large, rimmed baking sheet, toss the carrots with 2 tablespoons oil, then season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until the carrots are crisp tender and golden around the edges, about 20 to 25 minutes. (Keep an eye on the veggies and remove them as they finish cooking, allowing the remaining veggies to continue roasting if necessary.) Toss the warm carrots with some of the pesto (about 1/4 cup).

To serve, divide the lentils between individual plates or mound onto a platter. Top the lentils with the roasted carrots. Spoon some of the pesto over the top. Garnish with cilantro. Serve and enjoy!