As humans, we never know if leaves are edible or not until we taste them. Unfortunately, the process of tasting leaves for edibility is not always pleasing, so it’s preferable to learn through other people’s experiences.
The downside of learning through people is you only know as much as they know. So, in the end, you may realize that there are many edible leaves you aren’t aware of.
If you intend to add some new types of leaves to your diet, we can help with some recommendations. Here are 15 leaves you didn’t know were edible.
Bell Pepper Leaves
Bell/sweet pepper leaves are actually edible and pretty delicious too. While they are also peppery, they are way milder than actual pepper fruits. This is all thanks to the fact that capsaicin is more concentrated in the ribs of the fruits.
Bell pepper leaves may be mildly bitter when eaten raw. So, they are best used when cooked.
Sweet pepper/bell pepper leaves are commonly used in preparing Tinola, a Filipino soup. But they may also be used in Chinese stir-fries and braises.
Black Bean Leaves
All types of bean leaves, including black bean leaves, are edible. They can be cooked in various dishes or eaten raw. But many people prefer cooking them because they are pretty fibrous.
Leaves from younger plants are tender and relatively easier to chew. So, if you are bothered about how fibrous black bean leaves are, get them from young plants.
Many people believe carrot tops are toxic. However, they are not. To some, they may not be as tasty as expected, but that’s just about it.
Carrot tops are edible, and they have various culinary applications. They are commonly used in making condiments and herbs. Carrot tops may be used as a substitute for basil in classic pesto. They may also be used to intensify umami or savory flavor in place of parsley.
Besides their use in condiments, carrot tops may be used as a garnish. They can be sauteed with olive oil, garlic, and sesame oil to create an appealing flavor. They can also be sliced or chopped into salads and soups or scattered in rice or pasta.
Since people typically chop celery leaves off the stalk, there is this thought that they are not edible. But this is untrue; celery leaves are totally edible.
Celery leaves have about the same flavor as the stalks. They are delicious and chock-full of nutrients. You can use celery leaves basically the same way you use other herbs. You can add them to salads, stocks, vinaigrette, stir-fries, sauces, and soups.
When picking out celery leaves, look out for those with dark outer green stalks. The leaves picked off thin stems atop such stalks are typically the best.
Chickweed leaves are not only edible, but they are delicious and nutritious. You can eat them cooked, raw, or use them as a potherb.
Chickweed leaves can be added to salads or used as a garnish. However, ensure you do not consume too many chickweed leaves. If you do, you may experience stomach discomfort.
Chickweed leaves are best used fresh. So, try to use them within 24 hours of cutting them.
Every part of a cucumber plant is edible, including the leaves. You can use fresh cucumber leaves in making a salad. You can also use them in cooking.
Young cucumber leaves are relatively tender, but you can also eat them. Due to their texture, they readily take on the flavor of whatever they are cooked with. So, you may decide to eat them raw.
Alternatively, you could just grow a batch of cucumber plants just for the leaves.
Beyond being medicinal, dandelion leaves are edible. They can be cooked, added to salad, or eaten raw like spinach.
If you intend to eat dandelion leaves raw, get them when they are young and fresh. As dandelion leaves become older, they get bitter.
Even when fresh and young, raw dandelion leaves may not appeal to you. But if you cook them, the bitterness should be mitigated.
Dandelion leaves are pretty nutritious; they contain vitamin K, calcium, vitamin A, and iron.
Green Bean Leaves
Like many other bean leaves, green bean leaves are edible. They can be used in various cuisines or eaten raw.
However, if you intend to eat them raw, opt for younger leaves since they are relatively more tender. Older green bean leaves are more fibrous. So, you may have a hard time chewing them raw.
People often put radish tops aside and go for the spicy, zesty, and crisp roots. Unknown to them, radish tops are actually pretty delicious. Whether eaten raw or cooked, radish tops are a delight in cuisines.
Radish tops are best used raw because their flavor is generally delicate.
While you can eat the leaves of summer, spring, winter, and all other types of radishes, you may want to work with winter radishes if you grow your own plants.
With winter radishes, you can pick the leaves at different times over the season without affecting the plant.
Radishes that take longer to grow (such as large watermelon radish and the long Daikon radish) typically have older, bitter leaves. So, you may want to avoid them when shopping. Also, when shopping for radish tops, avoid those with yellow spots.
Red Clover Leaves
While the flowers of red clovers are more commonly used in cooking, the leaves are also edible.
For a plant, red clover leaves have a high amount of protein. But beyond that, they are delicious and are a good source of vitamin C and B vitamins.
You can sauté red clover leaves alongside the flowers. Alternatively, you may bake them before grinding.
Apart from their culinary uses, red clover leaves may also be used for tea. The tea is said to help with various conditions such as asthma and post-menopausal osteoporosis.
While red clover leaves and flowers are edible, the stem does not taste good. It is also not really nutritious. So, you can just do away with it.
People typically eat squash fruits and cook with their seeds. But some do not know that the leaves are also edible.
Squash leaves can be used in the same way as greens like kale, chard, and spinach. They are pretty tasty in stir-fries. You can also sauté them in olive oil alongside garlic before finishing them off with a fresh squeeze of lemon.
While the leaves from any type of squash are edible, some cultures prefer using some types over others. For instance, Southeast Asian cooking favors the use of opo squash leaves.
If you are picking the leaves yourself, simply snip the tendrils or leaves from the last few inches of the vine. Use the leaves fresh or refrigerate in a plastic bag and use them within 72 hours.
Many people wouldn’t think that teasel leaves are edible. But they actually are, especially the young leaves.
You can cook teasel leaves like other greens. Alternatively, you may eat them raw or add them to smoothies.
Teasel leaves are nutritious, and they may also offer some medicinal benefits. But when you are picking them, avoid the spiky stems.
While some people think they are not edible, you can eat tomato leaves without any issue. As long as you only eat them moderately, you should be fine.
You can add tomato leaves to dishes like soups, salads, and sauces. Tomato leaves are fragrant. So, when they are added to meals, they introduce a deep flavor. This flavor is more pronounced when the leaves are chopped or cooked.
When choosing tomato leaves, opt for the young ones since they are tender. Avoid the small leaves on the stalk of the fruit. Those ones are typically too fibrous to eat.
Every part of the watercress vegetable is edible, including the leaves. But you may do away with the roots since they do not taste great.
You can either eat watercress leaves raw or add them to your meals to get the classic peppery flavor. You may also use watercress leaves for their visual appeal by adding them as a garnish. Watercress leaves can also be added to smoothies.
Apart from being delicious, watercress leaves are highly nutritious. They are chock-full of various antioxidants, including quercetin, phenolic acids, and lutein.
Wild Grape Leaves
Besides being edible, wild grape leaves are nutritious. They are packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. So, consuming them in reasonable amounts is good for the body.
Wild grape leaves are low-calorie. This makes them an ideal wrap for virtually any filling. You can make wild grape leaves into a salad, where they offer a tangy, citrusy flavor. Alternatively, you may cook them.
Wild grape leaves are typically stuffed with meat, rice, and spices across the Mediterranean. This stuffing makes dishes like Warak Enab and Dolma.
Before cooking with wild grape leaves, you can blanch them. This way, they retain more of their flavor, texture, and color. Only blanch young leaves as the older ones become tougher when blanched.