A few months ago, celebrity dietician Ashley Koff, RD, was standing in a field of broccoli, but she wasn’t there doing a Today show segment about the benefits of incorporating it into your diet.
She was there to learn about a “new” vegetable, BroccoLeaf, the leaves that grow on and around broccoli florets and heads—and which have been recently prized as a desirable food item in their own right.
So, BroccoLeaf isn’t a new vegetable in the same way that pluots are a new (hybrid) fruit. In fact, broccoli leaves have been around forever—farmers have just historically used them to renew their soil. But Foxy Organics, based in Salinas, CA, is the first farm to distribute the leaves nationally as a food product.
No one is saying that resourceful at-home cooks and chefs like Peter Berley or Bill Telepan haven’t whipped up dishes with the leaves—or that you’ve never seen them at your local farm stand. (You have!) This just means you can now buy broccoli leaves the same way you buy a bunch of organic romaine at the grocery store. A bunch looks a lot like a bundle of kale or Swiss chard. (Fairway in New York City is already carrying it.)
So yes, this is broccoli’s big chance to gain back some some street cred after soundly losing out to kale year after year. BroccoLeaf is a little sweeter than traditional broccoli that’s a bit like sugar snap peas (a win for those not into kale’s bitterness), and you can massage the leaves with a dressing for a salad, just like kale, or toss them in your Nutribullet for a smoothie.
So, how does it stack up next to kale in the nutrition department? The nutrients that have made broccoli leaves so appealing to organic farmers when grinding them back into the soil and growing other things are also great for you, too, Koff explains.
“It’s mineral dense and has all these antioxidants really good for detoxification,” Koff says. It’s higher than kale (and broccoli florets) in calcium, it’s an excellent source of vitamins A and K, and has lots of phytonutrients, like glucosinolates, which are cancer preventing, she says.
And those who feel outrage when kale prices climb to $3 might be happy to hear that BroccoLeaf is “relatively inexpensive,” Koff says. It sells for 99 cents at lots of grocers across the country, and come November it should be more widely available on the East Coast.
It’s obvious kale isn’t going anywhere, but we’re thinking it’s going to have to make room in your fridge for a leafy green friend. —Molly Gallagher