Eating the Leaves

Don't toss those garden top greens onto the compost heap or into the garbage. They're full of flavor, contain loads of nutrients and are great for salads, pesto, soups, pastas and of course juicing. Start practicing leaf to root cooking with the following greens for better food value and more nutrition.


Beet leaves have a delicate sweet flavor with a hint of beets and the small young leaves and stems are perfect for salads, sandwich greens, and pesto or tossed into pasta or Rice until wilted. Larger leaves can be used as lettuce wraps or filled, rolled and baked similar to cabbage rolls. Beet leaves can be used in place of spinach in almost any recipe. A good source of vitamin A and C.


The large leaves surrounding broccoli have a flavor similar to cabbage. They're best when slowly cooked until tender and can be used as a substitution in recipes calling for kale, cabbage or collard greens. They can also be stuffed and baked or used in soups and stews. A great source of vitamin A. Peel the broccoli stalk and slice or chop. It carries the same flavor as the broccoli and is very delicate once the coarse outer peel is removed.


Feathery carrot tops are slightly bitter in taste but a great accent flavor when used with mixed greens in salads or added to salsa verde or chimichurri. They're also good in soups and stews. Leave several inches of the stem on small whole carrots and add them to roasts, stews or braises. Packed with potassium, chlorophyll and vitamin K.


Thinly slice the leaves of cauliflower and sauté with garlic or use in stir fries, soups, stews and pastas where they add a mild cauliflower and cabbage flavor. They're excellent roasted in a high heat oven until the edges are crispy. Small tender leaves can be eaten raw. A good substitute in any dish that calls for kale, collard greens or mustard greens. Good source of vitamins A and C.


Celery leaves carry a strong celery flavor. Chop and add them to any dish calling for celery. They're also good in pasta sauces, stir fries and slow-cooked dishes such as pot roast. Don't forget to add them to stews, marinades or as a garnish. The leaves contain five times more magnesium and calcium than the stalks.


The delicate fronds atop fennel resemble dill but with a light anise or licorice flavor. Chop the fronds and thin stems and use them generously in salads. They can also be added to light and creamy pasta sauces, tomato sauce, as a bed for cooking fish fillets or sprinkled over cheese.


Kohlrabi is frequently seen in CSA boxes and farmers markets but can also be found in the supermarket. The stems and leaves are as edible as the bulb. They have a mild cabbage flavor and are perfect sautéed with bacon and onions or added to soups and stir-fries. The leaves contain vitamins A and K.


Radish leaves add a hint of spice and will jazz up your salads, pastas, soups and stir-fries. Use small leaves for salads while the larger leaves are best in pastas and stir-fries. Excellent source of vitamin C.