Thursday, July 23, 2009

Veggie Might: Carrot Top Scramble — No Joke!

Written by the fabulous Leigh, Veggie Might is a regular Thursday feature about all things Vegetarian.

Twice now I’ve gone to the farmers’ market and they’ve asked if I want them to remove the greens from the root vegetables I’m about to purchase. “No,” (in a kind of huh?/duh! but more polite tone of voice) I’ve replied. Who would give up perfectly gorgeous turnip, radish, or carrot greens?

But the stand workers must be asking for a reason—either they want them for compost or they’ve been asked by enough people that they started offering.

I guess the latter wouldn’t be that crazy, especially in a city, where people have 1 ft x 2 ft counter tops and refrigerators under 10 cu. ft that you still have to defrost. But I love greens (as you’re well aware), and I will find the space and a use for those tops, whatever root vegetable they’re attached to.

Until this weekend, I’d only used carrot tops once—for making stock—and seen them once—in the gumbo z’herbes recipe I made at Easter. (I didn’t have any, so I didn’t use any.) But faced with a ginormous bouquet of feathery carrot greens from a beautiful bunch of local carrots, I knew I had to do something.

First I made stock for later. Then I improvised a little something for brunch with a pal visiting from Boston. It was morning; we were hungry; and I had a fridge full of possibilities. As I threw things in my trusty cast iron skillet, I asked C if she minded being a test case, and no surprise, she was game.

Here’s the play-by-play: I sautéed some onion and garlic in a little olive oil, tossed in the chopped carrot greens, and added a couple scoops of diced tomato from a can. You’ll want to remove the thicker stems—they get a little woody.

After the greens cooked for a few minutes. I cracked a few eggs over the mixture and scrambled it all together. At the last minute, I threw in a little fresh cilantro, salt, and pepper. We ate it with toast and veggie sausage.

It was a true go-with-what-you’ve-got-moment that came out surprisingly well. C doesn’t cook and was way more impressed than necessary that I didn’t use a recipe. But I was pretty pleased myself—mostly that carrot greens are good. The flavor is a bit unusual: a little bitter, but with a hint of sweetness and carrot essence.

Not only are the carrot greens tasty, they’re good for you: packed with potassium, vitamin K, and cancer-fighting chlorophyll. So when they guy at the market asks, say, “No, I’ll take them.” These carrot tops won’t leave you feeling icky.

Carrot Top Scramble
Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 med onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
carrot greens, chopped
1 cup canned diced tomato (or fresh)
4 eggs (I used two whole eggs and two egg whites)
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1) Sautée onion in a little olive oil for 2 – 3 minutes; add garlic and continue to cook for another minute or so.

2) Toss in chopped carrot greens. Stir and cook for 2 – 3 minutes until they begin to wilt.

3) Add diced tomato and simmer covered 3 minutes.

4) Crack eggs into mixture and scramble until well combined.

5) Top with cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6) Serve with toast and veggie sausage. Marvel at how resourceful you are.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
115 calories, 6g fat, $.48

1 tbsp olive oil: 120 calories, 14g fat, $.08
1/3 med onion: 13.3 calories, 0g fat, $.17
3 cloves garlic: 12.6 calories, 0g fat, $.04
4 cups carrot greens: 88 calories, 0g fat, $.33
1 cup canned diced tomato: 50 calories, 0g fat, $43
4 eggs (2 whole + 2 egg whites): 174 calories, 10g fat, $.75
2 tbsp fresh cilantro: 2.75 calories, 0g fat, $.10
salt and pepper: negligible calories and fat, $.02
TOTAL: 460 calories, 24g fat, $1.92
PER SERVING (totals/4): 115 calories, 6g fat, $.48

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Amanda on Maui said...

I put them into a stew I made the other night. Just a couple handfulls washed and chopped.

They're also great in smoothies.

Amanda on Maui said...

Oh, and the farm stand here will keep the tops to feed the horses in the pasture on the property.

Ranger Duke said...

I understood that if you leave the tops on root vegetables they carry on growing, at the expense of the root. If you're buying it for the root and don't intend to use the top then it makes good sense to have them cut the top off.
Using the top is of course better still!

Christine Cassidy said...

I thought carrot tops were o.k. to eat too but don't eat too many before you read this article in the New York Times:

A carrot tops . . . contain alkaloids, a group of organic compounds that includes caffeine, cocaine, and strychnine. “Effects range from slightly elevated blood pressure, and slightly elevated alertness and heartbeat, all the way to death,”

Regina Terrae said...

I use them just like parsley (a relative). Though I've never tried to make a carrot-top tabouleh.

Marcia said...

You know, I never thought about eating the tops. My toddler asks me why we don't eat them and the bunnies do...

healthytastycheap said...

That's genius!

TV Gord said...

This is some terrific advice and info. After reading a few pages that talk about how toxic they are, I'm glad to know the giant mound of carrot greens I bought today (compared to the relatively small yellow carrots...almost like parsnips in appearance), I'm glad to know there are people who have eaten them and survived.

I've made a few recipes that I think could be published in the next edition of the suicide manual, Final Exit, so I feel pretty invulnerable to carrot greens.

I'm a vegan, so I will try your recipe minus the eggs. I'm sure it will make a delightful addition to pasta sauce or any other number of dishes. I just happen to have a whole bunch of buds/pearls that fell out of a collection of garlic scapes I had, so I'm going to toss them in as well. A real compost soup, you could say!

I'll bookmark this page so that I can find may way back to let you know whether I survived! ;-D

TV Gord

Anonymous said...

Just made this for breakfast. Used green onions that I got from farmer's market and also added a bit of chili pepper powder to give it a bit of kick. We ate it with tortillas. Was excellent. Thanks for the idea to use up the carrot tops.

Lorin D said...

Ahhh! I liked you until I clicked on the link near the end and DEFINITELY found myself peeking at the ickiest of all Carrot Tops. What a cruel joke!

Anonymous said...

Made this just now for breakfast and it was so yummy! I'm not a fan of onions in my eggs so I left them out and added some chopped up cooked veggie sausage straight into the mix before I added the eggs. Very very tasty and a filling, fresh meal. Thanks for the idea! (:

Melanie said...

The kids and I gave this a try for thanksgiving breakfast. Yummy. We topped with a grate of Kaseri cheese, too.

Keerthana said...

This was amazing! I have never bought carrot tops until today, googled recipes and came across this one (simple and easy, all ingredients I already had), and now I will never stop buying carrot tops!

Thanks so much!