Tenerumi, the Sicilian Sensation


During the summer in Sicily, tenerumi, the leaves of a Sicilian zucchini, take over outdoor markets. Tenerumi fits in the category of a leafy green vegetable. It is often sautéed with garlic and eaten alone, added to soups and stews, or made into a simple pasta sauce with cherry tomatoes.

The leaves of this zucchini plant are enormous, with curling, unruly tendrils that look like overgrown sweet peas. All across Sicily, families pass along their recipes for tenerumi leaves. The differences can be subtle or grand, but one thing all islanders agree on: There’s nothing like mamma’s nourishing tenerumi and tomato soup to soothe a sore throat or a sensitive stomach.

Though tenerumi might be hard to find in your corner of the world, just knowing about this nutrient-dense leaf can encourage us to focus our attention on other hearty leafy greens that make excellent substitutes. Like tenerumi, spinach, chard, and kale have dense and thick leaves that are loaded with nutrients that will help you stay nourished during treatment.

Leafy greens are an incredible source of nutrients that supports a healthy immune system. These sturdy greens are a great source of fiber and are high in vitamin C which protects cells from damage. Leafy greens are also high in calcium which can help to maintain optimal bone health.  Dark leafy greens are an excellent source of phytonutrients that have been shown to play an important role in keeping inflammation low in our bodies which helps to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including cancer.

Try our simple recipe for Tenerumi & Tomato Soup. And if you’re not in Sicily and can’t get your hands on a bunch of tenerumi, fear not — any leafy green, or combination of leaves, will work well in this soup. Pick your favorite, make a big pot, and enjoy!


Registered Dietitian Approved

Our recipes, articles, and videos are reviewed by our oncology-trained dietitians to ensure that each is backed with scientific evidence and follows the guidelines set by the Oncology Nutrition for Clinical Practice, 2nd Ed., published by the Oncology Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group, a professional interest group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society

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