Broccoli leaves are edible. There I said it! Broccoli leaves are edible, nutritious and versatile in the kind of recipes they can go in. And I probably would have never tried it, if I wasn’t trying to grow it myself on the farm.
We tried growing broccoli last year and we failed. This year seems to be much better. One of the days when I was at the farm and beaming with a huge smile seeing the broccoli head shaping up, my farm help came up to me and said:
Kamla: “Didi, do you cook with the leaves?”
Me:”Broccoli leaves? no, I have never cooked with them. Do you?”
Kamla: “We cook gobhi (cauliflower) leaves so I think you can cook Broccoli leaves too.”
Straight away I went on the internet and found this article by Chef Alan Bergo on Cooking with Broccoli Leaves. That was Day 1 of me discovering what a true nutritional powerhouse Broccoli plant is – literally from top to bottom.
Cooking with Broccoli Leaves
Since the leaves are large, sturdy and smooth, my first trial with them was to make patra. Patra is a Gujarati snack traditionally made by rolling the large arbi leaves with a chickpea flour paste and then steaming and sautéed.
I made the same recipe with Broccoli leaves and it came out so nice that I now make a small batch every 3-4 days and take it to the office for everyone to enjoy along with some green coriander chutney.
Now, we add broccoli leaves to people’s vegetable orders with a note for them to try cooking with broccoli leaves :-).
Broccoli Leaves Patra
Ingredients (1cup = 240ml; 1tbsp = 15ml; 1tsp = 5ml)
- Remove the midrib/stem of the broccoli leaf cutting each into half. Wash and pat dry. Keep aside
- Make a thick paste of besan, salt, garam masala, red chilli powder, coriander powder and amchoor.
- Keeping the leaf facing down, apply a layer of besan paste on the back. Roll the leaf in such that the gram flour paste is inside.
- Repeat the same for the rest of the broccoli leaves.
- Steam the rolls in a steamer for 15-20 minutes until the besan gets cooked. (If using a microwave steamer, it should take only about 5 mins)
- After cooling, cut the rolls into bite-sized pieces.
- Heat oil in a kadai. Once the oil is hot, add asafoetida and cumin seeds
- When the seeds start to sputter, add the curry leaves.
- Add the cut broccoli leaf rolls and sauté for 5 minutes and remove from heat.
- Sprinkle some chaat masala.
- Try this recipe with different large leaves – swiss chards also make great patras!
- Can be made a day ahead. Heat on a pan or in an oven before serving.
Reduce Food Wastage
Quite often, we are used to consuming only the crown, or head, of the broccoli. But the leaves and stem carry just as many, if not more, nutrients. The next time you’re preparing broccoli, rather than discarding these parts, consider including them in your meal. The stems can be finely chopped and stir-fried or blended into soups, and the leaves can be added to salads, stir-fries, or even baked into chips just like kale chips.
It’s a simple way to get more value out of your food purchase, reduce waste, and enjoy the full range of flavours and health benefits this amazing vegetable offers.
When we think about reducing food waste from this perspective, it becomes less about a duty and more about the opportunity to take a step towards a healthier lifestyle and a healthier planet. Small changes to our everyday habits, like making the most of our food, can add up over time and have a real impact.
So, let’s savour all parts of our food, respect the effort that brought it to our table, and affirm our commitment to minimizing waste.