A New Kind of Broccoli Takes the Spotlight
The deliciousness of the dark, kale-like leaves that grow around a head of broccoli has been an open secret among home gardeners and farmers’ market shoppers for ages. But even those in the know have been frustrated by the limited availability of broccoli leaves since most growers simply discard them.
Now though, sold as BroccoLeaf, they are appearing at supermarkets, and I hope so many people try them that they become as popular as kale. I could say I want them around because these broccoli leaves are so good for you. But the true reason I want them in stores from now on is that they taste so good.
These broccoli leaves look like a cross between a heavily veined collard leaf and some kind of kale, but not any actual, specific kind. Its dark, intense color tells you it is loaded with nutrients. One serving provides all the vitamin C and vitamin A you need for the day and loads of B vitamin folate, calcium and potassium. As a cruciferous vegetable, broccoli leaves also contain an abundant assortment of cancer-fighting phytonutrients, and in good amounts. Nature put all this goodness into broccoli leaves and the brand BroccoLeaf happens to be organic.
Broccoli leaves taste sweeter than kale, with none of its bitterness, and are more tender than collard greens or kale. It is also a versatile vegetable. Putting its elongated, fleshy leaves through full-out culinary tryouts, I can say broccoli leaves make good salads, are excellent in soups and stews, and they go with everything from beans and eggs to pork, poultry and salmon.
Broccoli leaf is also easy to cook. I hope you will try this simple, Italian way to braise it. And I would love to know what you think of this old but new leafy green.
Braised Broccoli Leaves
Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 57 calories, 3.5 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 5 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 24 mg sodium
- 1 bunch broccoli leaves (12-14 oz. with stalks or 1 bunch BroccoLeaf)
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 garlic cloves (peeled and each cut lengthwise into 5 slices)
- 1/2 cup water
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Lay a leaf on work surface with stem toward you. Run tip of small, sharp knife down both sides of center vein, then grasping stem, lift it and vein away from leaf and discard. Fold leaf in half lengthwise and set aside. Repeat, stacking stemmed leaves.
- Stack 6 halves horizontally on work surface with curved side toward you. Roll leaves into a long tube. Using a large knife, cut leaves crosswise into 1/2-inch strips; there will be 6 to 7 cups.
- In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, turning it several times, until it just begins to color, 1 to 2 minutes. Add greens and cook, stirring until they look shiny and dark and have collapsed, about 1 minute. Pour in 1/2 cup water. Spread greens over bottom of pan, cover tightly and cook 5 minutes. Uncover, and cook, stirring often, until all moisture has evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes. Off heat, season braised greens to taste with salt and pepper.
Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.
Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.
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Photographs by Heather Victoria Photography