A Tale of Two Pestos and a Thai Eggplant Stir Fry – Oh My!

Eau Claire, Wisconsin

By Jeff

August 9, 2023

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Over the many years Angie and I have visited the Eau Claire Downtown Farmers’ Market I have often looked at the fresh carrots and other vegetables with their fresh green leaves still attached. All the times I’ve seen this I figured it was just for show, the leaves meant to be there to drive home the significance of the just-picked-from-the-ground freshness of the produce.

I think finding Thai eggplant at the market this time sparked me to do some adventurous cooking and an offshoot of that was also changing my thinking about everything we’d procured at the Eau Claire Downtown Farmers’ Market that day. It never occurred to me until now that these carrot greens and the leaves and greens of the other vegetables could be valuable ingredients.

Carrot Greens Pesto

I did a bit of searching for ways to use carrot greens and one of the most popular uses is to make a pesto sauce with them. I looked at several different recipes for carrot greens pesto and then did what I do with most recipes, I used them as guides and created my own. Here is what I did and the ingredient list.

Carrot Greens Pesto Ingredients

  • A bunch of carrot tops
  • 3 tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup of Gouda, Parmesan, or any other hard cheese of your choice
  • 5 to 8 tablespoons of olive oil
  • A bit of salt to taste
Making the carrot greens pesto and the finished product.
Making the carrot greens pesto and the finished product.

Making Carrot Greens Pesto

  1. Cut the carrot tops into three inch long pieces so they will fit into the food processor better.
  2. If you have a lot of carrot tops don’t add them all at once. Do a few rounds of the next steps.
  3. Give the food processor a few pulses to chop up the carrot tops.
  4. Continue steps #1, #2 and #3 until you have all of the carrot tops chopped.
  5. Add the 3 tablespoons of minced garlic and the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.
  6. Cube the gouda cheese into about 1 inch blocks and add it to mix.
  7. Give the food processor a few more pulses to incorporate the gouda cheese into the mix.
  8. Slowly add the olive oil a few tablespoons at a time, give a few pulses to the food processor and then let the food processor run for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat this process with additional tablespoons of olive oil. You can add more or less olive oil depending if you want a thick pesto almost like a paste or a thinner sauce. I personally like to keep the pesto a bit thicker; you can always add more olive oil later but it’s much more difficult to try to take the olive oil back out

This made 24 ounces of pesto sauce. I put it into two 12 ounce containers so I could freeze one for later use.

Carrot Greens Pesto for Dinner

After finishing the carrot greens pesto, I cooked some pasta al dente. I used cellentani noodles this time. They are a lot like cavatappi noodles, just a bit smaller. I really like the shape of this pasta; it really adds a touch of fancy to a meal.

I placed the drained pasta into a mixing bowl and spooned some of the carrot greens pesto onto the cellentani noodles and gave it a quick stir. I then added more pesto until it was enough to generously coat the noodles. The great thing is this meal really comes together quickly once you have the pesto sauce made. We paired this carrot greens pesto with a nice white wine for an enjoyable meal.

Angie and I both found the carrot greens pesto to be a bit bland and a little bit grassy. To balance the flavor we added some basil pesto to the cellentani noodles and we both found the flavor to be much more to our liking. Mixing the carrot greens pesto with our basil pesto certainly makes our normal basil pesto go farther too which is a win.

Beet Greens Pesto

I also wanted to make use of the beet greens so again after sifting through some recipes I created my own recipe for beet greens pesto using what I already had on hand at our house. To be more efficient with my time, I made this at the same time I made the carrot greens pesto.

Beet Greens Pesto Ingredients

  • Beet Greens
  • 1 cup of Brazil Nuts
  • 3 tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 5 grinds of sea salt
  • 5 to 8 tablespoons of olive oil

Making Beet Greens Pesto

  1. Cut the beet greens into three inch long pieces so they will fit into the food processor better.
  2. If you have a lot of beet greens don’t add them all at once. Do a few rounds of the next steps.
  3. Give the food processor a few pulses to chop up the beet greens.
  4. Continue steps #1, #2, and #3 until you have all of the beet greens chopped.
  5. Add the 1 cup of brazil nuts, the 3 tablespoons of minced garlic, and the 5 grinds of sea salt. (You can of course add more grinds of salt later to adjust the flavor.)
  6. Give the food processor a few more pulses to chop up the brazil nuts.
  7. Slowly add the olive oil a few tablespoons at a time, give a few pulses to the food processor and then let the food processor run for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat this process with additional tablespoons of olive oil. You can add more or less olive oil depending if you want a thick pesto almost like a paste or a thinner sauce. As I mentioned before, I personally like to keep the pesto a bit thicker because you can always add more olive oil later but it’s much more difficult to try to take the olive oil back out.

This also made 24 ounces of pesto sauce. I put it into two 12 ounce containers so I could freeze one for later use.

Making the beet greens pesto and the finished product.
Making the beet greens pesto and the finished product.

Beet Greens Pesto for Dinner

Like I did with the carrot greens pesto, I made pasta to toss with the beet greens pesto. One note about this beet greens pesto is the color is less appetizing than that of the carrot greens pesto. The color is a bit of a brown tint, as you can see in the photo above.

This might be a deal breaker for some, but I like the taste of it enough to disregard the color. I found it to be a bit sweet and nutty. When making it again, I will probably add a bit more salt to counterbalance the sweet taste.

Thai Eggplant Stir Fry

I looked around a bit for recipes to use the Thai eggplant and finally decided to make a stir fry with it. As before, I used the recipe research for ideas and then came up with my own recipe. The recipe I made results in servings for 2 to 4 people.

Thai Eggplant Stir Fry Ingredients

  • 1 Thai eggplant
  • ½ of an orange pepper (You could use green pepper if you want. I liked the orange pepper for the color it brings to the dish.)
  • 8 ounces Cremini mushrooms
  • 1 medium size purple onion (You can use yellow or white onion if you want. Again I like to bring color into cooking whenever possible.)
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of Sesame Ginger Dressing Mix or Seasoning
  • Teriyaki sauce (optional)

Making the Thai Eggplant Stir Fry

  1. Cut off the top and bottom of the Thai eggplant and set them aside. Then cut the remaining Thai eggplant into matchsticks. I read that Thai eggplant may have seeds which you may need to remove for optimal flavor. Ours had seeds so small they did not affect the flavor at all.
  2. Cut the orange pepper into matchsticks and set aside.
  3. Slice the mushrooms
  4. Slice the onion into matchsticks
  5. Place the onion matchsticks into a heated non-stick pan on medium to medium-low heat and cover. Cook the onion covered for about 5 to 7 minutes or until the onion starts to wilt a bit and become translucent.
  6. Add the Thai eggplant, mushrooms, orange pepper, and minced garlic to the pan. Cover and cook for about 10 more minutes or until the vegetables soften.
  7. Once the vegetables are softened, add the teaspoon of Sesame Ginger Dressing Mix.
  8. As an optional step, you may want to add a teaspoon or two of Teriyaki sauce. Adding the Teriyaki sauce will bring up the flavor in this dish considerably. It is good without the teriyaki sauce but it is great when included.
  9. Cook for about 4 to 5 more minutes on low heat to allow the spices to bloom.
  10. Serve the completed Thai eggplant stir fry over steamed rice
  11. Enjoy!
Making the Thai eggplant stir fry and the finished product.
Making the Thai eggplant stir fry and the finished product.

Thai Eggplant Stir Fry for Dinner

Angie found another nice white wine from our collection for us to enjoy with the Thai eggplant stir fry. We enjoyed the Thai eggplant stir fry “al fresco” style out on our deck on this beautiful Wisconsin evening.

The Eau Claire Downtown Farmers’ Market really inspired me to try cooking some new things I hadn’t before. We are having some great new and exciting meals as a result. Angie and I both highly recommend a visit to the Eau Claire Downtown Farmers’ Market and hope you can experience this wonderful part of our community too.