Why We Love Broccoli Leaves

We wrote about how amazing broccoli leaves are earlier this year, and the love affair continues. These dark leafy greens grow on the outside of the plant stalk and can be prepared just like kale or Swiss chard. They are loaded with vitamin C and calcium, and since they’re really a two-in-one food — the leaves and stalks can be cooked separately — we in Food Network Kitchen jumped for joy when a delivery of the crunchy cruciferous leaves came from Sycamore Farms, located north of New York City in Middletown, N.Y.

The opportunities were endless. Here’s what we cooked with our bounty.

The leaves: Strip the leaves from the stems and wash them really well. Take a taste; if they are slightly bitter (think broccoli rabe), then blanch them in some salted boiling water. Squeeze out any excess moisture. We loved them sauteed with olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper and then finished with some chopped pickled cherry peppers, grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of kosher salt to taste.

The stems: Now that you’ve stripped all of the leaves off, what should you do with the stems? Pickle them, or chop them up and add to a stir-fry. But they are also sweet and tender enough to stand in for celery in an upgraded version of the after-school favorite Ants on a Log. (Oh, and add some toasted sunflower seeds for a little extra crunch!)

Look for broccoli leaves at your local farmers market (there still may be time this year!) You might even see them pop up in your neighborhood grocery store.

Leah Brickley is a Nutritionist-Recipe Developer for Food Network Kitchen.

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