We love carrot greens!!! When we are at the farmers market and getting a bunch of fresh carrots, the farmers would kindly ask us if we want to have the leaves taken out. Some while ago, I learned it from a farmer that they ask it because the carrot stays actually fresher and higher in nutrition when the leaves are taken out, so that it won’t anymore send out its nutrients into the leaves. But we say “No, thank you!” to this offer. Because we love carrot leaves. These leaves which many people just discard or give to their chicken are so delicious and very high in nutrients. We even ask the farmers for the discarded leaves in the box sometimes.
Unforgettably delicious dish
When I was in college, I traveled to Kyoto (one of the most famous historical and cultural area in Japan). There, I visited the famous traditional food market and stopped by at a restaurant operated by a vegetable shop that sells many of the the heirloom vegetables grown in Kyoto prefecture, called Kyo-yasai. I ordered their lunch menu and one of the dishes was boiled carrot greens salad with white sesame. Until then, I had never eaten carrot greens before, and it was surprisingly delicious. I had no idea that carrot greens were so flavorful.
In Japan, it is not so easy to get carrots with the greens on. Therefore, when I moved into California, I felt I was in carrot heaven. Most of the farmers are selling the carrots with greens on. I got so excited to cook and eat the carrot greens again. My husband was first surprised, as he didn’t know that it was edible. But now, it has become one of his favorites of the favorites! Although I have some more repertoire of cooking with carrot greens, this carrot green salad with tahini sauce is one of our classics. It is definitely inspired by my experience at the restaurant in Kyoto.
High in nutrition
One of the concerns people may have transitioning into the vegan diet is the amount of calcium they would get, because there is a strong belief that our source of calcium is dairy. But this is absolutely not true. Sesame, turnip leaves, and daikon leaves, for example, are high in calcium. And so are carrot greens. Carrot greens are also high in vitamin A, folic acid, potassium, and iron. Its dark green color shows that it is also good for the health support of the kidney and reproductive organ.
How to prepare
After coming back from the farmers market, one of my first tasks is to cut off the stem from the carrots, take all the leaves from the stem, wash the greens and boil them in water for 30 seconds. I am sure that you can also steam the greens, through which you will probably lose less nutrition. But I usually choose to boil them, since some of the dirt that might still be with the carrot could come off through this process.
After boiling the carrot greens, I let them cool down in the strainer. Meanwhile, I will put 1 tbsp of tahini, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp mirin, and 2 tsp water into a bowl and mix them together. If you are in the mood for a fresher flavor, you can use 1 tsp ume plum vinegar instead of soy sauce and mirin. Once the carrot greens cool down, mix the greens with the sauce, and here is the most delicious carrot green salad!
Small but impressionable side dish
I serve this dish as a little side dish in Japanese meal. The amount I serve is little, but it leaves us always such delight with sigh of deliciousness. You can see some examples here how I am incorporating this dish in a meal: