BroccoLeaf is sweeter and juicier than kale and makes a satisfying addition to breakfast, lunch or dinner.
It’s also a nutritional star, with all the health benefits of broccoli. In fact, BroccoLeaf is the bouquet of leaves that surround and protect our weekly staple as it grows.
Like other California growers, the Nunes Co. left the tall, leathery leaves in the field after harvesting the broccoli crowns, then tilled them back into the soil to enrich the next crop.
Last year, the company decided to develop a juicing program for its Foxy brand organic greens to appeal to the hip young things who drink kale for breakfast.
As marketing vice-president Matt Seeley tells it, one grower announced they were on the wrong track.
“He said he’d stopped using kale to make juice in the morning because it clogged up his machine,” says Seeley, “and he showed us the bunch of broccoli leaves he used instead.”
Curiosity piqued, Seeley asked a local juicer to experiment with the leaves.
He then sent the leaves to two labs for nutritional analysis. The verdict: broccoli leaves are an excellent source of Vitamin A, K and calcium, they provide a daily dose of Vitamin C and they’re a good source of folate.
For the past six months, bunches of Foxy organic BroccoLeaf have been showing up in select supermarkets across North America, including Nature’s Emporium in Vaughan, which sells only organic produce.
Communications director Ryan Dennis says the greens have been a huge hit among his customers, who buy them in bunches, juiced, raw in salads and sautéed from the store’s hot table.
“Many of our customers have been eating kale for years,” says Dennis, who prefers the leaves sautéed, “so when something pops up offering a new texture and taste, they’re eager to try it.”
The thick leaves maintain their texture when cooked, he says, and the stems are sweeter than kale, though I find the leaves can still taste pretty strong when raw.
Seeley says Nunes is now bagging chopped Foxy BroccoLeaf and plans to introduce salad blends with the “new” green. Other California broccoli growers are already jumping on the leafy bandwagon, he adds, though they can’t use the trademarked name.
If the leaves take off, it could be a green summer for local broccoli growers, too.
Buy & Store:
- Like other imported greens, BroccoLeaf is grown in California’s Salinas Valley during the summer and in Yuma, Ariz. in winter.
- Choose dark green leaves, avoiding brown or yellow patches. Seeley says the size of the leaf will vary throughout the year.
- Store in a plastic bag in the coldest part of your fridge up to five days.
- If you grow your own broccoli or buy a particularly leafy head, use the leaves.
- If you can’t find BroccoLeaf, talk to your produce manager. Nature’s Emporium and Longo’s are carrying them.
- Wash thoroughly and pat dry before using in salad or sautéing in hot oil.
- Remove the bottom part of the stem, stack leaves on top of one another and roll lengthwise into a fat cigar. Slice crosswise into ½-inch (1 cm) ribbons.
- If using raw in salad, add dressing an hour before serving to soften the leaves.
- Substitute BroccoLeaf in any recipe calling for kale, chard or spinach.
- Juice it! Eight Broccoleaf stems yield about ¼ cup (60 mL) juice.
- Whirl in a smoothie for “great colour and taste,” friend Catherine reports.
- Chop and add to green or grain salads.
- Power up breakfast by adding sliced BroccoLeaf to scrambled eggs or a frittata.
- Make an Asian stir-fry with chopped broccoli leaves, sweet peppers, carrot coins and onions.
- Add to soups, such as Portugal’s caldo verde.
- Add to turkey stuffing.
¾ cup (185 mL) Le Puy green lentils, rinsed
½ bunch (6 oz/180 g) BroccoLeaf, rinsed (or substitute kale or spinach)
3 tbsp (45 mL) olive oil
1 tsp (5 mL) minced garlic
2 tbsp (30 mL) water
Salt + freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pinch crushed red chili flakes (optional)
19-oz (540-mL) can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
½ cup (125 mL) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved if large
¼ cup (60 mL) coarsely grated Parmesan or sharp cheddar
1 lemon, halved
In medium pot of boiling water over high heat, cook lentils 25 minutes, or until just tender. Drain; set aside.
Meanwhile, trim BroccoLeaf stems where they meet the leaves. Stack leaves and roll lengthwise into cigar shape. Hold roll with one hand and with the other slice leaves crosswise into ribbons ½-inch (1 cm) wide.
Heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil in 10-inch (25 cm) non-stick skillet. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in sliced BroccoLeaf to coat with oil. Add 2 tbsp (30 mL) water. Cover; steam 2 to 3 minutes, stirring once, until tender and bright green. Season with salt, pepper and chili flakes, if desired.
In medium bowl, combine reserved lentils, chickpeas and remaining 2 tbsp (30 mL) oil. Season to taste.
To serve, divide lentil mixture among 4 bowls. Top with cooked greens, tomatoes and cheese. Squeeze lemon over top.
Makes 4 servings.
Published May 28 in the Toronto Star