Farmers Market WTF: Week 3 – Carrot Tops

For most people, hearing “carrot top” conjures up images of a skinny comedian with bright red hair who totes around a trunk full of props.

For me, I imagine the leafy greens atop my carrots and think, ‘What can I do with these?’

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Purple carrots from the Green City Market

After asking the farmers at the market without much help, I took matters into my own hands to research what, if any, uses there were for my carrot tops. Check out the Carrot Museum website for some great recipes. I really loved their idea for a carrot top pesto, though I didn’t actually follow their recipe since I didn’t have the ingredients on hand.

Normally I would let you know about the fantastic nutrition of carrot tops before I delve into recipes and the like. However, there were no reputable sources to be found on the topic. That doesn’t mean that carrot tops aren’t nutritious, however. If I had to use my nutritional knowledge and background to estimate the nutrients found in carrot tops, I would say that there is potassium (promotes heart health among other things), vitamin K (involved in bone health and maintenance as well as blood clotting) and iron. Again, this is my estimation of the nutrients found in carrot tops and should by no means be taken as fact.

So, on to the recipe:

Carrot Top Pesto:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup carrot tops, rinsed, with any large stems removed
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, rinsed
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil (or more if you want a thinner pesto)
  • 3 Tbsp nuts or seeds (I used pepitas because that was all I had. Pine nuts or walnuts would be best)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until creamy.

Carrot top pesto made an excellent topping to my turkey meatballs at lunch…

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Turkey meatballs (lean ground turkey with red onions basil and herbs) over sauteed veggies and purple kale, topped with carrot top pesto. Yum!

Carrot top pesto is great on toast, too!

Farmers Market WTF: Week 2 – Purslane

Okay, so technically this is the third week, but last week I took off since it was the 4th of July. Therefore, I am calling this week two.

This week’s item: an edible weed known as purslane.

You are probably thinking that I’m nuts trying to tell you to eat weeds. Just hear me out, though. I promise I’m not [really] some crazy hippie dietitian.

It’s pretty, right? I am tempted to put some sprigs in vases around my apartment.

Also, a little background on purslane: a “weed,” it grows very easily and its seeds are quite resilient. So it is pretty much inevitable that it will find its way into a garden. And if it’s going to grow anyway, you might as well eat it.

Purslane is popular in certain Indian states and Latin American countries. It is even used by the French as a salad green, and is occasionally referred to as “Mexican parsley.” The entire plant – leaves and stems – are edible.

Purslane has a mild taste, similar to spinach or watercress with just a hint of tang and bitterness (not nearly as bitter as kale, Swiss chard or many other greens).

As far as nutrition goes, 1.5 cups of fresh purslane (you would use at least that much in a salad) contain:

  • Only 10 calories!
  • 25% daily value for vitamin C
  • 15% daily value for vitamin A
  • Vitamin K, calcium, iron and magnesium, among other nutrients

Though purslane can be cooked, I chose to eat it raw as the base of my salad. I had some canned crab meat from Trader Joe’s (real crab for a great price!) and decided to make some crab cakes to put on top of the salad. I figured that purslane’s fresh, crisp flavor would go well with a savory & rich (rich tasting, not rich in calories) crab cake. In about 20 minutes, my crab cakes were mixed, pan-fried and served as a delicious topper for the purslane!

Crab Cakes on a Bed of Purslane & Spinach

Crab cakes:

Crab cake ingredients. And yes, I used the store-bought lime juice. Sometimes you just have to improvise…

  • 2, 6 oz. cans crab meat, drained (about 8-10 oz. total, drained)
  • 1 egg (not pictured)
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (regular bread crumbs would also work), plus 1/3 cup
  • 1 Tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (I didn’t have any, hence the lime juice, also works)
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sriracha sauce (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (for pan-frying)

Directions:

  • Mix all ingredients, except for 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs and olive oil, in a bowl and form into 6 patties.
  • Sprinkle tops with half of the remaining bread crumbs.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large pan. You’ll know the oil is ready when you splash a [very small] drop of water into the pan and it sizzles (I just run my fingers under the tap and flick some water into the pan to check).
  • Place patties, bread crumb side down, into pan, then sprinkle remaining bread crumbs on top.
  • Cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes per side.

Purslane & Spinach Salad:

Mix 1 tsp grainy mustard with 1 Tbsp olive oil in small bowl. Place about 2 cups purslane and 1 cup spinach on a plate and drizzle with mustard/oil mixture.

Finished Product:

Top the salad with crab cakes and a little smoked paprika “aioli”  (1/4 cup nonfat Green yogurt, 1/4 tsp smoked paprika), and voila!

Crab Cakes on a Bed of Purslane & Spinach

Go Med! Easy and Delicious Recipes – Mediterranean Style

Being half Armenian, I have grown up with and absolutely love Mediterranean food. All of the delicious seafood and cheeses plus a veggie and nut focus – fantastic. Even better, a Mediterranean diet (with a vegetable, bean/legume, seafood and nuts/oil focus) is chalk-full of vitamins and minerals, as well as healthy fats (unsaturated fat from the oils and nuts and omega-3s from the seafood).

The problem is, the term “Mediterranean diet,” is quite ambiguous, making the diet difficult to follow. Alas, the Huffington Post put out some great (45 altogether!) recipes to transform Mediterranean ingredients into delicious dishes. Check them out here. The post is actually from last winter but the light and veggie-filled dishes are great for the summer.

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Ain’t she a beaut??

With my tomato and basil plants thriving (not a small feat, seeing that I’m growing them on my mostly shaded patio), I am ready to create some of these recipes – and probably tweak them a little along the way!