Looking for a colorful, healthy, and delicious side dish? Look no further than Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Carrot Top Pistachio Pesto!
This roasted carrot recipe highlights the natural sweetness and versatility of carrots, with a flavorful and nutrient-packed pesto made from the carrot tops.
The combination of sweet and earthy roasted rainbow carrots with the nutty and bright flavors of the savory pesto is always a hit, whether you’re cooking for one or want to impress dinner guests.
Roasted rainbow carrots are beautiful and absolutely delicious. This side dish with carrots is also a great way to add extra veggies to any meal.
Roasting carrots can bring out a delicious nutty, sweet flavor and a tender texture. Roasting carrots caramelizes the natural sugars in the carrots, creating a rich, deep flavor. The heat also helps the carrots to soften and become tender, making them enjoyable to eat. Additionally, the slight charring and browning that occurs during roasting add a wonderful complexity of flavor and texture to the dish. The result is a dish that is both delicious and healthy, making roasted carrots a popular and versatile ingredient in many recipes.
Roasted Carrots Health Benefits
- Good source of fiber: Roasted carrots are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which helps in maintaining healthy digestion and bowel movements.
- Rich in antioxidants: Carrots are rich in antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, which have been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.
- May improve eyesight: Carrots are known for their high vitamin A content, which is essential for maintaining good eyesight.
- May support immune system function: The vitamins and minerals found in roasted carrots, such as vitamin C and potassium, can help to support immune system function.
Overall, roasted carrots are a nutritious and delicious way to add important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to your diet.
So let’s dive into these flavorful and nutrient-packed Roasted Rainbow Carrots!
For the Roasted Rainbow Carrots:
- Carrots (with green tops if possible): You’ll need 8-10 medium to large rainbow carrots, cleaned (I wash them with a brush to remove the dirt), tops removed and reserved, leaving about an inch of the green stem on top, sliced in half lengthwise. If you’re using small or thin carrots, you don’t need to slice them. I like to buy rainbow carrots for color, but all carrots are nutritious so buy what works for you.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: You’ll need about 2-3 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Coating veggies in oil not only adds flavor and healthy fat, but it also raises the surface temperature of the veggies in the oven, which helps them roast.
- Salt: You’ll need a pinch of salt. I use Real Salt sea salt, but any salt works.
- Freshly ground black pepper: You’ll need ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper; that’s about 4-5 spins in a pepper grinder
For the Carrot Top Pistachio Pesto:
- Garlic: Use 1 small garlic clove, chopped. I like to chop it by itself in the food processor before adding the other ingredients to make easy work of it. Raw garlic can be intense; you can also use roasted garlic for a more mellow garlic flavor.
- Carrot Top Greens: For this Roasted Rainbow Carrots recipe, you’ll need 2 cups of lightly packed clean carrot top greens. Use the tender greens towards the very tops, and discard the thicker stems closer to the carrots. If you don’t have the carrot top greens, you can substitute the same amount of fresh basil or fresh arugula.
- Basil: You’ll need 1 cup of loosely packed fresh basil leaves.
- Pistachios: Add ½ cup whole-shelled unsalted pistachios. I buy these in the bulk section of the grocery store.
- Pepitas: You’ll need ¼ cup of unsalted pepitas, which are green pumpkin seeds; I buy these in the bulk section of the grocery store. If you don’t have pepitas, use more pistachios.
- Lemon Juice: Use 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
- Salt: Add ¼ teaspoon of fine-grain sea salt, or any salt you have on hand
Check out the printable recipe card below for the recipe and detailed instructions.
How To Make Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Carrot Top Pistachio Pesto
- Preheat your oven to 425°F while you prepare the carrots. Clean them and dry them thoroughly.
- Remove the greens from the carrots and reserve them for the pesto. You should leave about 1 inch of the green stem on top of the carrots for the rustic look of the dish.
- Slice the carrots in half (lengthwise) if you’re using medium to large carrots. If the carrots are small or thin, leave them as they are. Brush the carrots or toss them with extra-virgin olive oil so they are lightly coated, then also lightly sprinkle them with the salt and pepper, and put them in your baking dish.
- Roast your rainbow carrots for 25-35 minutes until they’re slightly caramelized, turning them over halfway through to make sure they are cooking evenly.
- While the carrots roast, prepare the pesto: place the garlic clove in the food processor by itself at first and process until it’s chopped. Add the rest of the pesto ingredients except the extra-virgin olive oil). While the ingredients are being processed, drizzle in the olive oil, to emulsify the pesto. Keep processing while drizzling in the olive oil for about 30 seconds until you see your desired texture. Pause, scrape down the sides, then pulse again for a final round, and adjust the salt if needed.
- You can also chop your garlic by hand with the rest of the ingredients, and mix them by hand for a less refined texture.
- Remove the carrots from the oven and let them cool for about 15 minutes.
- Place the roasted rainbow carrots on a large platter and top them with your homemade Carrot Top Pistachio Pesto.
Note: The pesto can be made 1 day in advance, but the carrots are best served on the day they are roasted.
This Roasted Rainbow Carrots recipe should take 15-20 minutes to prepare and about 30-40 minutes to cook. It should take around 1 hour in total.
Variatons & Substitutions
- Carrot Top Greens: I use the carrot tops here in the pesto so there’s no food waste, but if your carrots don’t have the tops attached, no worries! You can use extra basil or arugula to make your pesto topping.
- Nuts: While I personally opt for pistachios and basil because they both elevate the taste profile of the dish, there is still plenty of room for experimentation based on your ingredient availability and preferences. You can substitute the pistachios with almonds, walnuts, or pine nuts as well. To make this nut-free, substitute the pistachios with more pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
The Carrot Top Pistachio Pesto can be made and stored in the refrigerator 1 day in advance and can be stored for 24 to 48 hours after it’s done. The Roasted Rainbow Carrots are best served on the same day of cooking, but they’ll keep in the fridge, covered, for up to 2 more days if you have leftovers.
This Roasted Rainbow Carrots recipe makes 4-8 servings depending on the size of the carrots and your serving size. I generally plan on 1-2 carrots per person.
If you’re looking for dishes to pair with these delicious Roasted Rainbow Carrots, I recommend:
- The Perfect Flank Steak Recipe
- Perfect Oven-Baked Chicken Breasts
- Creamy Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup
These roasted carrots with carrot top pesto is one of my all-time favorite side dishes. The serving size can vary depending on your needs. I usually plan on 2 medium carrots per person (we slice them length-wise), or 1 carrot per person if there are many side dishes. Use more if using small carrots.
For the Roasted Carrots:
- 8–10 medium to large rainbow carrots, cleaned, tops removed and reserved, leaving about an inch of the green stem on top, sliced in half lengthwise (leave small or thin carrots whole). No need to peel them if they are clean.
- 2–3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the Carrot Top Pistachio Pesto:
- 1 small garlic clove, minced in the food processor (see note in recipe)
- 2 cups lightly packed clean carrot top greens (use the tender greens towards the very tops, and discard the thicker stems closer to the carrots)
- 1 cup basil leaves
- 1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachios (I buy these in the bulk section of the grocery store)
- 1/4 cup unsalted pepitas (a.k.a. green pumpkin seeds; I buy these in the bulk section of the grocery store)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- A heaping 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- A few spins (or a pinch) of freshly ground black pepper
Roast the carrots:
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Prepare the carrots by cleaning and thoroughly drying them.
- Remove and reserve the cleaned greens for the pesto — we like to leave about one inch of the green stem on top of the carrots for a rustic look.
- Slice the medium to large carrots in half lengthwise (leave small or thin carrots whole). Brush or toss the carrots with extra-virgin olive oil to lightly coat, then lightly sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Roast for 25–35 minutes until slightly caramelized, turning the carrots over halfway through to ensure even cooking. If they brown too quickly before becoming tender, turn the oven to 400°F and cover with foil, then let roast 5-10 minutes to soften.
While the carrots roast (or the day before), prepare the pesto:
(Note: if you don’t have a food processor, you can make your pesto by finely chopping all ingredients and mixing in the oil, or use a mortar & pestle. The below instructions are for a food processor:)
- Place the garlic clove in the food processor by itself and process until minced. Scape it down off the sides.
- Add the rest of the pesto ingredients (except the extra-virgin olive oil) to a food processor, then secure the lid.
- Turn on and drizzle in the olive oil while the food processor is on to create the pesto. Process for about 30 seconds while drizzling the olive oil until the desired texture is achieved.
- Scrape down the sides, then pulse a few more times. Adjust the salt if needed.
- Remove the carrots from the oven and let them cool for 15 minutes.
- Plate on a large platter, then top with Carrot Top Pistachio Pesto.
- The carrots are best roasted on the day of serving. The pesto can be made up to one day in advance.