Spigariello, Italian leaf broccoli. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | Los Angeles.
If you love broccoli and broccoli rabe (rapini), look for spigariello (variously spelled spigarello).
Related to both plants, spigariello is an Italian leaf broccoli that tastes like a cross between broccoli and kale. It’s popular in southern Italy, especially Puglia, where it’s called cima* di rape spigarello or cavolo [cabbage*] broccolo spigariello.
Spigariello is practically unknown in the U.S., but we discovered some grown in Southern California by Jimenez Family Farm in the Santa Ynez Valley, and sold at Good Eggs Los Angeles (and no doubt, at some farmers markets in the area). Internet research revealed a few other growers around the country.
Spigariello is very versatile, raw or cooked, alone or blended with other vegetables, substituted (or cooked along with) collards, kale and mustard greens, their botanical cousins. The leaf broccoli is sweeter yet more peppery than broccoli rabe (rapini), not bitter—a bit like broccoli sprouts.
The stems are tender and delicious, and the flowers are also edible. Use them as a garnish with pasta, fish, salads or anywhere you’d like some small white blossoms.
Use spigariello/leaf broccoli:
Boiled, sautéed, steamed or stir-fried
On sandwiches, instead of lettuce
Like all of the Brassicaceae, spigariello is very nutritious and full of anticarcinogens. Spigariello is a good source of amino acids, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and selenium. It’s a very good source of vitamins: A, B6, B complex, C, folate and riboflavin.
The Brassicaceae family of vegetables includes arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi and turnips. Eat up!
GROW YOUR OWN
It’s easy to grow leaf broccoli. It’s an attractive, high-yield plant that’s grown like broccoli rabe. The leaves are large, like collards, and deep blue-green in color.
And it keeps on giving: You harvest the leaves as you need them, and the plant generates more leaves into the autumn.
Seeds for growing the plant, Spigariello liscia, are available from JohnnySeeds.com.
*Cima is the Italy word for broccoli rabe; however, spigariello is a true broccoli, not a cima (rape). It is harvested young, before the stems turn to stalks. Nor is spigariello cavolo, cabbage, although cabbage is a family member of broccoli.