We are finally enjoying our first successful year of growing carrots. We were able to harvest a handful in our first season, but didn’t yet have enough growing space to get very many. Then last year we didn’t harvest any at all due to the flooding of our plot and the destruction caused by what we’re sure was a mouse. The pesky critter loved to nibble the tops of the seedlings so there were no leaves to sustain the plant’s growth! This year we’re finding that the roots themselves are perhaps a bit stubby but they’re perfectly edible. In particular their green tops are luscious and bushy, and they are just as edible as the roots so I’ve been playing around with a few ideas.
The flavour of carrot tops is vaguely reminiscent of parsley with a lovely fragrant herbal quality, and the amount of greenery you get from a single carrot can go a long way. I’ve been selecting the tender parts of the leaves and discarding any hard stalky bits and using them in a few different dishes. I especially like to make a version of a salsa verde by blitzing the leaves with plenty of garlic, capers, olive oil, lemon juice & vinegar, a pinch of salt and just adjusting to taste. It freezes well so you can make a batch in an ice cube tray and get portions out as and when you want them. It’s great spooned over new and roast potatoes, or served with some lovely pan-fried seabass. However, this adaptation of a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe for Iranian herb fritters from his cookbook “Simple” is quickly becoming the go-to carrot top recipe in my kitchen. These fritters, called kuku sabzi, are usually made with an array of green herbs, primarily parsley and often with dill, coriander and leeks, and are typically eaten at Nowruz, the Iranian New Year celebration.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can easily swap the carrot tops for other herbs or greens making it a great way to use up leftover fresh herbs like parsley, dill, basil etc. Its also a perfect way to use a range of wild greens and I can imagine it working particularly well with ground elder, nettle, lambsquarters, and/or sorrel. You could even try wild garlic for a stronger flavour…
I’ve kept the recipe quantities and servings fairly small so it can be scaled easily whilst not being too much for an everyday meal. The great thing about these fritters is that they can be served warm or room temperature and they keep for a day or two in the fridge making them a perfect snack or lunch food.
Ottolenghi suggests serving his fritters with a tahini-parsley sauce, and Iranian-American chef Samin Nosrat serves hers with yoghurt, flatbreads and Iranian pickles. They can be used to stuff pittas or sandwiches alongside your choice of other toppings such as fresh radishes, pickles, feta, yoghurt etc. I personally like to have mine with dollop of yoghurt and a spoonful of rose harissa or chilli jam.
Carrot Top Herb Fritters Recipe
Makes 4-6 fritters
- 60g carrot tops, finely chopped (or see above for other herb suggestions)
- Spring onion greens from 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- Breadcrumbs from 1 slice bread
- 1.5 tbsp dried barbaries (or currants/cranberries)
- 15g walnut halves
- 4 large beaten eggs
- Pinch salt
- Neutral oil like rapeseed or sunflower for frying
- Toast the walnuts in a dry pan until you can start to smell their nutty fragrance, taking care not to burn them. Give them a rough chop.
- Combine everything together minus the oil in a mixing bowl.
- Set your frying pan on a medium heat with plenty of oil. Roughly separate the mixture in the bowl into 4 portions and spoon these into the pan. It doesn’t matter if they touch and aren’t perfectly round – embrace the rustic look!
- Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through. Serve hot or room temperature with your choice of accoutrements (see main post for ideas).
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