Cauliflower florets are a common vegetable to eat and their mild flavour makes them perfect for children, or even adults who struggle with eating their veggies. There is one thing we all tend to do when we prepare cauliflower to eat and we do it without thinking…
… We remove the leaves that surround the heart of the cauliflower. But, have you ever stopped to wonder if you need to do this? Can you eat cauliflower leaves instead?
You can eat cauliflower leaves. These greens are edible and can be eaten in many of the same ways you eat other leafy greens. You do need to be a little careful if they have been grown using pesticides because the leaves can absorb these.
What Do Cauliflower Leaves Taste Like?
Cauliflower leaves have a slightly different taste and texture depending on which part you are eating. The leaves closer to the core will have more fibres and will therefore have. a tougher texture.
Once it has been cooked, the stalk and tougher leaves have a similar texture to leek but will taste like cauliflower.
The leaves are a little more bitter than other types and have a taste that could be likened to kale. If you don’t like this bitterness then there is no need to worry – you can add seasonings and spices and they will soon be a delicious treat you can enjoy as a snack or as part of a meal.
How to Eat Cauliflower Leaves
Whilst you could eat them raw if you wanted, the best way to really enjoy your cauliflower leaves is by cooking them. Take a look at these ideas.
For a delicious snack or side dish, you can’t beat some roasted cauliflower leaves. Roasting these leafy greens gives you a couple of different textures to enjoy.
The leaves themselves go crispy and are similar in texture and taste to kale crisps. The stalks themselves have a little more bite to them but these are equally delicious.
All you need to do is spread the cauliflower leaves out on a baking tray. Drizzle some oil over them and season with a little salt and pepper. If you like, you can also add some garlic, chilli, paprika, cumin or any of your favourite flavours. Bake in the oven for about half an hour for a delicious savoury treat.
Either roast or steam your cauliflower leaves until they are tender enough to eat and then pop into a bowl with some vegetables. Drizzle over some oil and salad dressing and mix the salad and serve immediately.
This is a delicious alternative to your traditional lunchtime salad or side salad to accompany your evening meal.
Another method, albeit not a popular one, is to add the leaves into your juicer and juice. If you prefer smoothies you can also blend in some cauliflower leaves to your other ingredients to make yourself a healthy green smoothie.
Cauliflower leaves are nutritious and this is a fantastic way of drinking in that nutrition. However, the leaves can be a little bitter which will make the juice bitter in taste too. You also need to take care to use cauliflower that hasn’t been farmed using pesticides if you are eating it raw in this way.
If you’re making a cauliflower soup, cabbage soup or general vegetable soup then don’t throw those cabbage leaves away. If you’re going to blitz the soup so that it’s smooth, you won’t even notice that leaves were used!
If you’re already using cauliflower then you won’t impact the flavour by using cauliflower leaves. They are also pale green which means the appearance of your soup is unlikely to change too!
Benefits of Eating Cauliflower Leaves
The major benefit of eating cauliflower leaves is that you aren’t wasting any of this amazing nutrition! It’s such a waste to throw away half the plant when you eat it especially when they are edible and safe to eat.
But, are cauliflower leaves good for you or not?
Cauliflower leaves also contain a whole host of vitamins and minerals including a high dose of vitamin C. They also include folate, vitamin A, calcium, potassium and selenium. If this wasn’t enough the leaves are high in fibre to help aid your natural digestion.
There is no reason to avoid eating the leaves!
Should You Eat Cauliflower Leaves?
If you can be sure of where your cauliflower leaves have come from, or have grown them yourself then yes you should eat any cauliflower leaves you have! This reduces waste, they are suitable for you and if they are cooked right can be absolutely delicious too.
You do need to be a little careful of any cauliflower leaves that have been farmed using a lot of pesticides as the leafy green parts do absorb a lot of these chemicals used.
Make sure you wash any cauliflower leaves that you plan to use well before using and then cook them up and enjoy. You’ll also need to give them a good wash if using organic cauliflower as bugs make a habit of hiding themselves in the cracks and crevices in leaves.
Cauliflower Leaves FAQs
If you’ve got other specific questions about eating cauliflower leaves then these might help:
Yes, you can eat cauliflower stems. You don’t have to limit yourself to the florets at the top. The stem, stalks and leaves of cauliflower are all completely edible. Don’t let them go to waste!
Cauliflower leaves are perfectly safe to eat raw but they may be a little tough and chewy. If you’re going to blitz them up in a smoothie then this won’t be a problem. In salads, however, you may want to blanch the leaves beforehand to soften them up.
Why not! If the other option is throwing them away then you may as well use the leaves from your cauliflower in cauliflower cheese. It might add a slightly different texture but the flavour will remain the same.
No, cauliflower leaves are not poisonous. They can be eaten both raw and cooked. All you need to do beforehand is give them a good wash to remove pesticides and dirt.