Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cauliflower Leaves are Edible!

I recently posted this photo of a head of cauliflower from my garden right before I harvested it. This  plant has continued to grow very well. It's not uncommon for the plant to push up one or a few smaller heads after the main head has been harvested, so I have let it stay in the garden. However, the other day I was out in the garden and I was amazed at how large the leaves of that cauliflower had grown.  You can see in this photo...

My cauliflower leaves are huge!

I started thinking, "What a waste of a plant to harvest just the flower buds!" Then I remembered Permaculture Principle Six: Produce No Waste. I thought the leaves will be a great addition to the compost pile... but then I wondered, "Can you eat them?"

A quick Google search later and I found out that, sure enough, cauliflower leaves are indeed edible! Apparently they can be used like any other green from the garden (collards, kale, beets, turnip, etc.). So I took one leaf... one really large leaf as you can see in the photo above... it was just over 3 feet (1 meter) long! I cut out the thick center rib and only used half for an omelet.

Ingredients: one half leaf cauliflower, one slice of bacon, 2 eggs, black pepper.

One rough chopped half cauliflower leaf sauteed with one slice bacon, rough chopped.

Two whisked eggs and black pepper added when greens were cooked through in 3-4 minutes.

The finished bacon and cauliflower leaf omelet!

So the big question... how did it taste?  Really good!  It tasted like a firmer (in a good way) cooked green like collards. Similar to kale without that faint earthy taste kale often has. I have since made a half cauliflower leaf, half brussels sprout dish that was fantastic as well... and my sometimes picky wife really enjoyed it as well. I am truly surprised that this is not a more common food... and I am thrilled that I have so much of it still left in my garden!


  1. Did you know that cauliflower, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kohlrabi are all the same plant? They're all a common mustard plant called Brassica oleracea that was bred for different characteristics (such as the flower clusters in cauliflower's case) until we get the many varieties we have today.

  2. It looks like they would be a great substitute for grape leaves in wraps or as the shell for some veggie burrito.

  3. I neither eat meat nor eggs but glad to know that they are edible.Will try out some nice and tasty preparation for vegetarians.

  4. looks delicious. Will have to try them, cauli soup for dinner tonight too!

  5. Oh! Oh! Oh!, I know....how about fermenting them there cauliflower leaves along with some green cabbabe, napa or sovoy cabbage, some shredded carrots and some fresh fennel to add it's wonderful sweet-n-spicy flavor and aroma. Or just add them to your regular sauerkraut or kimchi recipe and see how you like...that's what matters most.

    1. I have done a couple batches of fermented cauliflower leaf (sauerkraut) with great success. It tastes similar to cabbage kraut but doesn't break down as easy. That leaves it crunchier.

  6. I just made a soup with mine (definitely not low-fat, but you could alter it). Made a soup base with roux and veggie broth in one pan (you can make it as thin or thick as you'd like). Cooked some ground pork in another pan, then added a pat of butter and the diced cauliflower leaves to the pork and let them sweat out. Added some small, diced boiled potatoes and the soup base to the pork and leaves, stirred together, added garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a bit of cayenne. Scooped about 2/3 into the blender and pureed, then added it back to the pot and stirred. Also sprinkled some goat cheese in my bowl. Nice, filling soup, and the cauliflower leaves added a nice texture. They held up instead of going limp like a lot of greens do in soup.

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  9. That makes sense! I've snacked on young broccoli leaves, and they're essentially the same plant.