Cutting the tops off carrots and discarding the leaves deprives you of a flavorful, colorful ingredient. Don't waste those delicate leaves. Understanding ways to use them, and how best to cook them, can bring a whole new green vegetable into your meals.
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You can prepare carrot greens in the same manner that you would any other leafy green such as turnip greens, spinach, kale or collards. Add carrot greens to soups and stews for added flavor. Saute them with olive oil and seasonings such as garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. Blanch them to maintain the bright green color by boiling them until they just start to cook, then submerge them in ice water for an equal amount of time. For example, if your carrot greens start to soften slightly after three minutes in boiling water, submerge them immediately in ice water for three minutes. Not only will you preserve the bright color, it helps lock in a slight crunch. Toss them with a light dressing for flavor.
If you want to store carrot greens before cooking, they will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days. Cut them off the carrot before storing either portion. The greens draw moisture from the carrot itself, drying out the carrot if you leave them attached during refrigeration. When you cut them off for storage, they dry out rapidly, which is why they have such a short shelf life.
Chop carrot greens to a fine dice and sprinkle them over cooked dishes or casseroles as a garnish. Add them to salads for a bitter crunch. Other uses include medical benefits such as juicing the leaves to create an antiseptic mouthwash, according to The World Museum of Carrots. The greens have a bitter taste and do best when mixed with something that has bold flavors.
The World Carrot Museum reports that the leaves on a carrot top contain furocoumarins, which could cause a skin reaction. The leaves are not toxic, and the reaction only occurs if you are sensitive to the allergen.