Eat Your Broccoli Greens

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Eat Your Broccoli Greens

Lettuce. Collards. Spinach. These tried and true greens are great. By now I’m sure you’re aware that kale will make you immortal. In other words, we all know we should eat more greens, but it’s not always so easy. Greens can get boring. Well, don’t let them get boring. A good way to get excited about eating your greens is to try new greens. Get beyond spinach and romaine and bring some 
lesser-known leafy greens into your kitchen. There’s a world of unexplored greens. That’s because greens are global.

Every culture has greens. Asian greens like bok choy, en choy, and aa choy get all the press. But Italy is fond of some lesser-known bitter greens too. Puntarelle and rapini come to mind. But you don’t need a passport to eat more greens, there are unexpected and unexplored choices right here in North America. One of these greens comes from such a familiar source that it seems completely unexpected. I’m talking about broccoli greens. I don’t mean broccoli, broccoli (you know stalks and florets) I mean leaves. Broccoli greens are broccoli leaves.

Broccoli Greens

I’ve seen broccoli greens popping up at markets more and more, maybe you have too. In the past, nobody paid much attention to them. Farmers mostly just  plowed them under to cultivate the soil. But as we learn more and more about bioactives and cruciferous veggies, broccoli greens are becoming recognized for their nutritional power and have rightfully earned a place on the plate.

At my house, we eat a lot of greens. I like them sautéed, stir-fried, and stewed. I throw them in soups and I include them in salads. You’ll find several recipes for some of my favorites right here on this blog. However, when it comes to greens I can get as bored as the next cook. So I recently took my own advice and looked right past the collards and kales and chose broccoli greens.

I took them home on a very hot day. Errands being what they are, I left them in the back seat of the car a little longer than I probably should have. When I finally got them home I was pleased to see that their adventure hadn’t wilted them a bit. Which got me curious. How do broccoli greens compare to some of the other more common greens?

To find out I adapted a favorite recipe by this Sautéed Broccoli Greens with Toasted Coconut.

The recipe starts by cutting the leaves away from the tough stems. Right away I noticed that the leaves were softer and easier to cut than collard greens or curly kale. So I tasted them raw. While they weren’t quite as squeaky green under tooth as are collards, I thought they were still a little too vegetal tasting to enjoy in a salad. Though less chewy than kale, they weren’t quite as tender as chard or spinach.

This in between texture turned out to be very friendly to cooking. As I sautéed the broccoli leaves I found they cooked faster than the collards I’ve used in this recipe before, and unlike chard or spinach, they didn’t release a ton of water and then get steamed and wilted too quickly. All in all, these qualities make broccoli greens a good alternative in sautéed and stir-fried recipes. I haven’t tried them in stews yet, but I suspect they’ll be well-suited to these recipes as well. All in all, broccoli greens are a very good way to eat more greens. GREG

Broccoli Greens Toasted Coconut
Eat Your Broccoli Greens

Sautéed Broccoli Greens with Toasted Coconut

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source adapted from Louisa ShafiaPublished
Sautéed Broccoli Greens with Toasted Coconut

Ingredients

  • ½ cup raw almonds
  • ½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (plus more for seasoning)
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce (for seasoning)
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil (or other mild flavored oil)
  • 3 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 2 bunch broccoli greens (about 1 ½ lbs) before trimming)
  • 1 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spread out almonds on a small baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop; transfer to a plate to stop cooking.

Spread out coconut on the same small rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes; transfer to a plate to stop cooking. Turn oven off.

Create a slurry by mixing cornstarch and water in a small bowl until completely combined. Add soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, fish sauce and red pepper; stir slurry to combine and set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add collard greens a handful at a time, tossing until wilted between additions. Cook, tossing occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in cornstarch slurry, cook a moment until slightly thickened then season with salt and more vinegar to taste. Move the cooked greens to a serving platter. Garnish with basil, toasted almonds and coconut.

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