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Stock up on fresh vegetables at the Capital Region Farmers Market.

Sustainable Life: Introducing the world’s newest superfood

Mia Swainson

Move over kale. Broccoli leaves are the latest super food to hit stores in New York City.

They’re sold as BroccoLeafTM and like kale, they’re packed full of goodness. Just a few leaves can deliver your recommended daily intake of vitamins C and K. Plus, they’re high in those famous antioxidants.

Broccoli leaves are my new, favourite leafy green. I use them raw in salads or smoothies. They’re great cooked in a stir fry or bundled into cheese parcels. If you’re a home gardener, the main difference between broccoli and kale is that broccoli plants deliver broccoli heads as well as tasty leaves.

I discovered broccoli leaves by accident. Determined that our winter broccoli crop would succeed this year, we prepared the soil with a little too much cow manure. Apart from the disgusting smell, which lasted nearly a whole month, it had the unintended effect of our producing enormous broccoli leaves. This wasn’t the plan. I wanted enormous broccoli heads. Reluctantly, I harvested the leaves one day. I was short on leafy greens and needed something for a salad. That very day, I was converted!

While broccoli leaves are on the shelves in downtown New York, getting a hold of them in Australia isn’t so easy. If you’ve already got them in the garden, congratulations. You can start harvesting right away. Add even more fertiliser to existing plants to help the leaves take off. Try farmers markets, you might be lucky or make a note to get gardening with broccoli next winter.

If you can’t get broccoli leaves, don’t despair. Most recipes for broccoli leaves are also great with broccoli’s cousin… kale. Both have super food status, even if kale plants don’t work as hard to earn their place in our veggie garden. Both will help you on your way to glowing health in the depth of Canberra’s winter.

Here are simple recipe ideas for broccoli leaves (or kale) that will inspire you to enjoy this super food for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Breakfast: Green smoothie

Combine in your smoothie maker:

  • 1 banana
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 large broccoli leaf

Serves 1

Enjoy the goodness!

Lunch: Parsnip, cauliflower and broccoli leaf salad

Firstly, roast the parsnip and cauliflower. Chop the parsnips into 2-3 cm cubes and the cauliflower into florets. Drizzle with olive oil, stir through a clove of grated garlic and sprinkle on some salt. Roast in a medium oven, about 180 degrees Celsius, for 30 – 40 minutes.

Then, shred six broccoli leaves and place them on a large, serving platter. Top with the roasted parsnip and cauliflower. Then sprinkle over ¼ cup of lightly toasted sunflower seeds.

Dress the salad with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Snack: Broccoli leaf and parsley pesto

Using a food processor or stick blender, combine:

  • 3 ½ cups of shredded broccoli leaf
  • ½ cup of roughly chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/3 cup fresh walnuts
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt

The mixture should be a thick, creamy texture. Add more olive oil if necessary. Serve the pesto with carrot and celery sticks as an afternoon snack.

Dinner: Vegetarian ragu with pasta

This is a variation on a traditional pasta sauce, made in Tuscany with leafy greens and hand-made, fresh pasta.

In a heavy based saucepan, place 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and lightly brown a clove of finely chopped garlic. As the garlic browns, add a tablespoon of fresh oregano. The combination of oregano and garlic cooking will fill your home with a hearty smell.

As soon as the garlic starts to lightly brown, add 400g of skinned, chopped tomatoes (a can is fine) and simmer for a few minutes. While the tomatoes are simmering, finely shred 8 large broccoli leaves. Then, add them to the simmering tomatoes, along with ½ cup of cooked lentils. Season to taste with a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper. Let this simmer away for 10 – 15 mins, while you cook the pasta.

Cook about 400g of pasta, fresh or dry. Combine the pasta and sauce, then serve with parmesan cheese and olive oil.

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Mia Swainson

Mia Swainson is passionate about creating a more sustainable world and believes that everyone can make a difference. Trained as an environmental engineer, Mia has worked in sustainable development with the Australian Government and community sector for more than 15 years. Mia’s work has taken her around the world to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and back to Canberra. She currently tends her kitchen garden, cares for three young boys and is growing her executive coaching consultancy (miaswainson.com.au/wp). More about the Author

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