I love the idea of whole foods. Unprocessed, unrefined foods that nourish our bodies. Especially when it comes to things we grow. But, when we talk about whole foods, we really are only talking about using the whole food we find in the grocery store, not the whole food, like broccoli, that grows in the garden. For that, we need to think about the Whole Plant—the leaves, the stem, the fruit, the seed, the root. Not always, but often those parts offer as much benefit to us as what we are used to using.
In this series of Whole Food—Whole Plant, I’m going to be sharing ways to use the various parts of the plants we grow in ways that you may have not thought about. I want you broaden your horizons when it comes to gardening and eating. This is going to be fun!
Right now, my garden has an abundance of Broccoli—from Di Cecci to Waltham. They are big, beautiful plants that take up a lot of space, so it’s important to me that I get a lot of bang for my buck. When I first started growing broccoli, I was so excited to see that wonderful crown forming in the center of those stunning gray-green leaves. Then I harvested it. Delicious, no doubt, but other than a few florets sprouting from the stalk throughout the next month, I was pretty disappointed in this one-hit wonder. I mean, do you realize how much effort it takes to garden? It seemed such a shame to have spent months growing this and then popping most of it into the compost pile when it was finished.
Well, not anymore!
Broccoli fills our plates all season. Just like kale, the leaves are quite edible. And usually very large. You can certainly grow broccoli, like Spigarello, specifically for its gorgeous, curling leaves, but standard broccoli, grown for it’s crown, allows you two options. And according to Dr. Mercola …
Broccoli leaves provide about 90 percent of your daily vitamin A requirement, compared to 3 percent in the florets.
Here are some rules for harvesting broccoli through the season:
- Larger leaves for wraps are tougher and will need to be blanched, and the stem shaved thinner.
- Remember to leave some leaves for the plant to continue to grow and produce a crown.
- Let some of the flowers bloom. The bees are crazy for them, and then you can get some wonderful seeds for sprouting or growing next year! Quadruple Impact!
Try these two recipes and then add to your whole broccoli repertoire!
Potato and Broccoli Leaf Hash
Broccoli Leaf Enchiladas
- Large broccoli leaves
- 1 cup cooked quinoa (use broth for more flavor)
- 1 cup roasted sweet potatoes, cubed
- 1 cup black beans
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup chopped green chiles
- Monterey Jack cheese (2 cups grated or as much as you like)
- Enchilada sauce (Trader Joes is my favorite)
- Sour cream and avocado for garnish
This video shows how to roll the broccoli leaves, sorry it’s a little foggy (must be from messy fingers)
Now let’s start using the Whole Plant!
Try broccoli leaves in soups, salads, dips, lasagna, any recipe that calls for greens is fair game in my opinion. Let me know how YOU use this Whole Plant.