What to Make with Broccoli Leaves

broccoli and leaves

Chances are that if you shop at the farmers market, you’ve noticed that the broccoli has leaves. These often overlooked greens have a lot going for them taste-wise, and because they last a little longer in the crisper, are often my choice over kale, collard greens or spinach. Similar in taste and texture to broccoli rabe, these greens are a great substitute for their cousin and can often be used interchangeably. They also don’t require blanching, making an easier and quicker dinner cleanup. Market tip: Look for the young leaves if you prefer your greens a little less bitter.

Meatless Balls Food52
This smart recipe lets the cook choose their own greens. Mixing broccoli greens with a milder flavor like beet and onion greens gives these spicy meatless balls a nice balance. Serve as an appetizer or with your favorite pasta. They’ll store in your fridge for a week and a half, without the fear of wilting! Add a ¼ cup of parmesan if you’re feeling like you need some extra cheesiness.

Broccoli Pesto PastaBon Appétit
Garlic, pine nuts, basil and sharp cheese mask all greens, turning out batch after batch of delicious sauce that coerces even the pickiest eaters to the table. I personally love a 33/33/33 combination of basil, broccoli greens and spinach. Use a little less oil and add some chopped green olives (like Castelvetrano) to make a pseudo-tapenade for some toast.

Broccoli Leaves with Marjoram and LardoBon Appétit
Cured lardo adds a bold, meaty richness to just about any dish. This recipe is no exception. If you choose to use all leaves, then the blanching step is unnecessary. Serve as a side to crispy roast chicken and you won’t be sorry.

Pulled Pork Italiano — Saveur
The hoagie is an ultimate tailgating, lunchtime and crowd-pleasing food. Minus the bun, the meat mix can be made a few days ahead, which allows the fennel to really meld. Substitute the broccoli rabe for leaves, or do a mix.

Penne with Creamed Greens and Pancetta — Food52
Instead of sautéing the greens in a separate pan, use the rendered fat from the pancetta to cook them. For a veggie-friendly option, first brown butter in a pan, then continue on from the second step, using the butter in lieu of the pork fat.

Broccoli with Sweet Italian Sausage — Epicurious
Obviously, meat and greens go very well together, especially in the colder months. This recipe only has five ingredients, but is easily one of the most flavorful of this list. Is also perfect fuel for any Halloween vampire hunts. Add as much or as little garlic as you desire and use a spicier sausage to cut through the slight bitterness of the broccoli greens.

Baked Gnocchi with Greens — Food Network
Another old-school Italian grandma favorite, this dish must be served immediately, and hot. Unfortunately, it isn’t the best for reheating, as the gnocchi are sensitive to overcooking and will become tough. For extra crisp, bake the dish in a cast iron for delightfully burnt edges.

Stir-fried Broccoli Florets, Stems and Leaves Vegetarian Times
The holy grail of the sustainable meal, the stir-fry uses all parts of the broccoli. Add a dash of sesame oil and serve over cold soba noodles for an Asian-inspired flare.

Emily Ziemski

Emily is a freelance writer, food stylist and prolific devourer. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, her career has varied from working the line at a two-Michelin restaurant to her most recent work: writing the 2014 SXSW Cookbook. Her passions include iced coffee and quenelles.