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This simple roast chicken with carrot top-kale pesto is paleo, gluten free, Whole 30 compliant, and just the thing for chilly weekends.
Meet my new favorite weekend tradition: simple roast chicken with carrot top-kale pesto.
The routine goes like this: buy a local, free-range chicken and some fresh produce on Friday, roast the chicken with root vegetables and blend the greens into a pesto on Saturday, and make homemade chicken stock on Sunday. (Of course, you can start the routine any day of the week–that’s just what works best for me since I’m at work all day Monday through Thursday.)
I’ve been carrying out this roast chicken tradition pretty much every other weekend. I love every part of the process: buying what I need at the farmers market, roasting the chicken and vegetables, preparing the pesto, making the broth, and of course, eating what I’ve made (and sometimes even sharing it).
Since moving down to Tennessee and joining a winter CSA from Big Sycamore Farm, I’ve become even more obsessed with cooking with local ingredients and trying all different kinds of vegetables. So when I got a gorgeous bunch of carrots with all their vibrant greens still attached, I was determined to use the tops. I knew I’d read about carrot top pesto somewhere, and a quick search reminded me that the recipe is from Diane Morgan’s cookbook Roots (and is also available online via Culinate).
(Keen observers may have noticed that there are no carrots in that skillet. Why not? They were too delicious raw! I’ve never been a big fan of carrot sticks, but since these carrots were adorably tiny and from a local farm I decided to try a bite of the first one I peeled. I was so shocked by how much I liked it that I wanted to eat them all as they were, and decided to instead roast vegetables that couldn’t be eaten raw. That being said, if you want to roast the carrots that came with your carrot tops, do it! They’re great that way, too.)
I set off to make a paleo, dairy-free version of Diane Morgan’s carrot top pesto. It was really easy to do. The only dairy included in traditional pesto is parmigiano reggiano, and I find that a few extra pine nuts and a little more salt easily compensate for the lack of cheese.
I also snuck in some kale–it makes the pesto even greener and adds an extra punch of nutrition. The feathery carrot tops taste kind of like a sweeter, milder parsley, which means they balance out the slightly bitter kale really well. And overall, the pesto tastes a lot like spring. If you hate cold weather like I do, I think you’ll appreciate the freshness of its flavor. It’s a nice reminder that despite the impending winter, spring is never really that far away :).
The great news for anyone who’s currently running low on carrot tops is that they’re easily replaced by basil and/or cilantro. I love to use cilantro because it’s my favorite herb ever, but if you hate it or want something closer to traditional pesto, use basil. If you’re torn or have both, use half and half.
Since the pesto is so flavorful, I kept the roast chicken super simple. If you’re looking for some dressed-up roast chicken recipes, check out these recipes from my cookbook Paleo Planet: Roast Chicken with Za’atar & Yogurt Sauce (page 92) and Peruvian Roast Chicken (page 94). If you’re looking for more pesto, check out this roasted cauliflower with creamy cilantro pesto. And if you’re looking for a way to use up extra pesto, try a pesto frittata.
Happy weekend, everyone. I hope you get a chance to roast something!
Do you have a favorite kind of pesto or another unique use for carrot tops? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
This simple roast chicken with fall vegetables is perfect when you need a comforting meal that's easy to make but not at all boring. It's gluten free, paleo, and Whole30 compliant, too! *I used 2 turnips, 2 small sweet potatoes, and half a butterkin squash. Carrots, rutabagas, butternut squash, and white potatoes would also be great! The nutrition label provided is an estimate for informational purposes only and may not be accurate. I am not a nutritionist or medical professional. Carrot top-kale pesto is dairy free, easy to make, packed with healthy greens, and delicious on almost anything. If you don't have carrot tops, you can use basil or cilantro instead! *If you don't have carrot tops, you can substitute basil and/or cilantro.
Simple Roast Chicken with Fall Vegetables
You can make this roast chicken even simpler by omitting the vegetables. The roasting time may be slightly less.
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 813Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 27gCholesterol: 290mgSodium: 837mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 8gSugar: 6gProtein: 77g
Carrot Top-Kale Pesto
**To toast pine nuts, place them in a dry skillet over medium-low to medium heat and toss frequently until they're lightly browned (3-5 minutes). Don't turn your back on them, and take them off the heat right away once they're golden.
Extra pesto will keep in the fridge for a few days. Put it in a bowl or jar, smooth out the top, and pour a thin layer of olive oil on to protect it from the air.
I've also frozen this pesto (but only for two weeks because I was so excited to use it in a pesto frittata). I scooped tablespoons of it onto a parchment-lined plate, put the plate in the freezer until the pesto dollops were frozen, and then transferred them into a zip-top bag. I defrosted the pesto in the microwave. The frittata came out great!
This simple roast chicken with fall vegetables is perfect when you need a comforting meal that's easy to make but not at all boring. It's gluten free, paleo, and Whole30 compliant, too!
*I used 2 turnips, 2 small sweet potatoes, and half a butterkin squash. Carrots, rutabagas, butternut squash, and white potatoes would also be great!
The nutrition label provided is an estimate for informational purposes only and may not be accurate. I am not a nutritionist or medical professional.
Carrot top-kale pesto is dairy free, easy to make, packed with healthy greens, and delicious on almost anything. If you don't have carrot tops, you can use basil or cilantro instead!
*If you don't have carrot tops, you can substitute basil and/or cilantro.
This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Kari Peters says
I don’t use my carrot tops very often, but sometimes I chop them up and put them in soup just like any other green. I love this idea of using them in pesto and I’m going to try this out as soon as we start having Farmer’s Market again!
Thank you so much, Kari! Using them in soup is a great idea, too–I’ll have to try that next time I get some.
Janie Penn says
I love the photos for this post, especially the first one of the roasted chicken!
Thank you so much!! <3
YUUUUHS! I LOVE Roots! Diane Morgan is so talented, and that’s one of my favorite cookbooks. I was so blown away when I first got it and saw the huge array of recipes, as well as all the information on roots I had never even heard of. ANYHOO, this recipe looks fantastic. Chicken + Veggies is right up my alley, and that pesto? The perfect sauce to accompany the meal!
I totally agree 🙂 Thanks, Julia–hope your weekend if off to an amazing start!!
Nora (A Clean Bake) says
I tend to eat all of my CSA carrots raw, too, because they taste SO different when they’re fresh from the ground vs, well, not-so-fresh from the store. But now I am disappointed that they don’t include the greens! I am going to have to ask them for the greens next week so that I can make this delicious pesto to go with my next roast chicken. I wish I had the discipline to do this every weekend, too!
Yes! Fresh-from-the-ground carrots are so much better. You know, the last couple of weeks mine haven’t come with greens either–I wonder if maybe they don’t last as well later in the season? I’ll have to ask. You can also use cilantro or basil instead of the carrot tops!
I’m not quite up to EVERY weekend with roasting a chicken, but do it pretty consistently every other weekend–and I might have to up it to every single weekend because I really miss having the homemade stock during the off weeks 😉
How fun is this carrot top pesto?! I could slather anything with a big spoonful of pesto. I’ve been making a kale version a lot recently but I’m excited to try adding carrot tops to it! We joined a CSA last year and was so disappointed in the quality that we’ve been hesitant to join another one. For now I’m just sticking to the farmers market! Maybe next year!
Thanks, Lauren! I’m with you on being up for slathering pesto on all the things. Sorry to hear your CSA was disappointing–I was super lucky because I got to buy an extra box from the summer share toward the end of the season and try the veggies right before signups started for the winter, and have loved everything I’ve gotten. Don’t give up!! (Or maybe just move to Chattanooga and join Big Sycamore’s CSA 😉 )
Mary // chattavore says
I so need to join a CSA! I haven’t heard of Big Sycamore. I take it you’ve been happy with your boxes from them?
I’ve loved everything so far! They’re at the Brainerd farmers market on Saturdays and Ooltewah on Thursdays. They’re taking signups for the spring season CSA now, and also sell veggies a la carte so you could always give some a try 🙂