If you’re a fan of sweet and savory flavor combinations, Garlic Roasted Carrots with Creamy Carrot Top Pesto is the side dish for you. The perfect balance of sweet roasted carrots, savory garlic and thyme, and a creamy, herbaceous carrot top pesto will have everyone asking for more. We’ve been known to shamelessly devour this right off the pan for dinner. Perfect for a quick weeknight side and destined to be a new holiday favorite, this recipe is paleo-compliant, gluten-free, and vegan. You can even prep ahead of time when cooking for a crowd.
If you’re a fan of easy and flavorful roasted sides, you may also like our Roasted Coriander Lime Asparagus, Vegan Cheesy Roasted Broccoli, Roasted Garlic Sage Chickpeas, Italian Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Mushrooms, or Roasted Red Grapes.Print
For the Carrots
- 12 medium-large carrots, preferably thick and uniform in size, with greens (Nantes carrots are perfect for this)
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp dried thyme leaves (or 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, divided)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt, reserved*
- 1/8 tsp ground white pepper
For the Pesto
- 2 firmly packed cups carrot greens (leaves only, cut from main stem)
- 2 firmly packed cups baby spinach
- 1 large garlic clove, chopped
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup cool water
- 2 tbsp unsweetened almond butter (preferably a thick variety like MaraNatha)
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp salt
For the Carrots
- Add olive oil, minced garlic, white pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of the thyme leaves to a bowl, mash and stir with a fork, and set aside. Set oven racks to top two positions and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment or Silpat mats and set aside.
- Trim greens from the carrots leaving 2-3″ stems attached. Scrub and peel the carrots, then halve lengthwise from greens to tip.
- Place carrots, cut side up, on prepared sheets and brush lightly with the oil. Sprinkle with half of the reserved thyme leaves and flip. Brush rounded side with oil, reserving the garlic bits thyme in the bowl, and sprinkle with remaining thyme leaves. Roast for 20 minutes, undisturbed.
- Remove from oven, flip the carrots to flat side up, and distribute the reserved garlic, thyme, and oil over the flat side of the carrots (adding this now ensures a strong garlic flavor while preventing the garlic from burning). Return to oven, rotating the pans between the racks and roast an additional 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the carrots and preferred tenderness (check at 15). The carrots should be tender but not mushy. Sprinkle with the sea salt and serve immediately, with pesto drizzled across both pans or on the side (two whole carrots plus one tablespoon of pesto per serving).
For the Pesto
- While the carrots are roasting, submerge the greens in water to wash off any dirt, then run under cold water to rinse. Remove excess water with a salad spinner or clean cotton towel. Separate leaves from the stems, measure 2 packed cups of leaves, and add to a food processor. Add spinach, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper, nutritional yeast, almond butter, and water to the food processor. Pulse to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Once ingredients are a fine mince, process continuously while slowly adding the oil. Scrape down the bowl then continue processing until smooth. Set aside until ready to use. NOTE: This will be a very thick and creamy pesto because of the almond butter. The nuttiness of the nutritional yeast and herbal punch from the carrot greens, make this a bit aggressive, but be cool – it’s a magical combination when paired with the sweetness of roasted carrots.
Refrigerate leftovers separately, in glass airtight containers, up to three days. Stir pesto immediately before using.
*Unless otherwise specified, we use regular table salt. This is an instance in which the coarse texture of sea salt is key. It adds a burst of sweet/salty flavor here and there without salting the entire dish.
PESTO: Nutrition Estimate Per Serving (1 TABLESPOON) – Calories: 62, Fat: 4.2, Saturated Fat: .3g, Trans Fat: 0g, Polyunsaturated Fat: .3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2.3g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 32.4mg, Potassium: 112mg Carbohydrates: 2.3g total/1.4g net, Fiber: .9g, Sugar: .2g, Protein: 1.7g, Vitamin A: 20.8%, Vitamin C: 3% Calcium: .9%, Iron: 1.9% (based on 2,000 calorie diet).
CARROTS: Nutrition Estimate Per Serving (2 CARROTS) – Calories: 72.5, Fat: 4.3, Saturated Fat: .3g, Trans Fat: 0g, Polyunsaturated Fat: .3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 102.4mg, Potassium: 216mg Carbohydrates: 7.8g total/5g net, Fiber: 2.8g, Sugar: 3.2g, Protein: .6g, Vitamin A: 314%, Vitamin C: 5.6% Calcium: 2.2%, Iron: 1.8% (based on 2,000 calorie diet).
CARROTS WITH PESTO: Nutrition Estimate Per Serving (2 CARROTS + 1 TABLESPOON PESTO) – Calories: 134.5, Fat: 8.5, Saturated Fat: .6g, Trans Fat: 0g, Polyunsaturated Fat: .6g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5.3g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 134.8mg, Potassium: 328.1mg Carbohydrates: 10.1g total/6.4g net, Fiber: 3.7g, Sugar: 3.4g, Protein: 2.3g, Vitamin A: 334.8%, Vitamin C: 8.6% Calcium: 3.1%, Iron: 3.7% (based on 2,000 calorie diet).
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 35
- Category: Side Dishes
- Method: Oven Roasting
- Cuisine: Plant-Based
- Diet: Vegan
Keywords: ROASTED CARROTS, GARLIC ROASTED CARROTS, CARROT TOP PESTO, CARROT GREENS, PALEO, PLANT-BASED, VEGAN, GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY-FREE, GRAIN-FREE, SIDE DISHES, HEALTHY SIDES, HOLIDAY SIDES, VEGETARIAN, WEEKNIGHT SIDES, EASY SIDE DISHES