New York City chefs are buzzing about hemp, cannabis’s nonintoxicating cousin.
hemp leaf
Photography by Getty Images
| Credit: Photography by Getty Images

New York City chefs are tossing hemp leaves in salads and meat dishes for a refreshing flavor. 

"It's in the vein of parsley or mint," says Andrew Whitcomb, executive chef at Nordic-inspired café Norman, whose young-lettuce salad combines hemp with speckled lettuce and endive. 

You can also find hemp leaves as a sautéed side at New American staple ABC Kitchen, draped over Ibérico pork at small-plates bistro Estela, and, yes, even in salad mixes at Whole Foods locations in the Northeast. 

Unlike cannabis, hemp contains almost none of the high-inducing chemical in marijuana. But it is packed with nutrients, making it a bona fide superfood: The seeds are full of amino acids and contain a 1-to-3 ratio of omega-3s and omega-6s (a balance that may help reduce inflammation), and the leaves boast "five times more protein than lettuce," says Daniel Dolgin. As co-owner of JD Farms in Eaton, NY, he runs the first farm certified to grow hemp legally in New York in more than 80 years. 

"The leaves have good levels of magnesium and iron," says Dolgin. "They're comparable to kale." Now, that's what we call fine herb.