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.
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