Purple sprouting broccoli

To our delight, purple sprouting broccoli has enjoyed a renaissance over the last few years. Vigorous, wild and woolly-looking, it’s a delicacy that’s equal to asparagus. Not only that, it appears early in the year, when other homegrown greens are in short supply. One of our favourite vegetables – a real seasonal star.

Storage & prep

Will keep for a week

Storage: Kept in its bag, it should keep for up to a week in your fridge, but is best eaten as soon as possible.

Prep: Almost everything is edible in your bag of PSB. You may need to trim the odd tough stalk end or discard the occasional discoloured leaf but everything else can go in the pot, pan or oven. For most recipes you’ll want equal sized spears, so if you have a few larger and bunched stalks, split them down with a small knife. There is no reason that the smaller leaves can’t stay attached; the larger leaves make good greens just on their own.

Cooking tips

At its freshest PSB should take no more than 3-4 mins in boiling salted water. Cook in small batches and check if it is done by nibbling the stalk end as this part takes the longest. When particularly young and tender it can be well served by gently frying over a medium heat in some oil and butter, or if cut small will benefit from the fast and furious attention of a wok as part of a stir fry.

Cooking ideas

Simple: Add a walnut sized knob of salted butter and a generous flourish of freshly ground pepper. Add a tiny squeeze of lemon if you’re feeling flash. You won’t win Masterchef but, whatever way you spin it, it just works. Stack it into a tower if it makes you feel more cheffy.

Salty: Mix with a small handful of chopped capers warmed in foaming butter, or try frying some sliced chorizo or salami until crisp, adding a little chopped parsley and throwing together. You can always mash a couple of salted anchovy fillets into a good mustardy vinaigrette and dress the warm florets. Never forget cheese in all its varying forms, blue cheese in particular or married with a proper rarebit mix and grilled on hot toast.

Asian: Warm a little grated ginger, finely sliced garlic and chopped red chilli in a little sesame oil until the garlic starts to colour, throw together and season with a dash of soy sauce. You can also add small lightly steamed florets to a stir-fry or Thai curry.

Purple sprouting broccoli recipe

Wild garlic and purple sprouting broccoli ragout

A coconut broth is used to cook nutty tasting wild rice and quinoa, with a seasonal pairing of wild garlic and purple sprouting broccoli: two of our favourite homegrown spring vegetables.

Serves 2 - 60 min

Flavour Friends

Purple sprouting broccoli works well with:

acid – vinegars and lemon juice

citrus – lemon, orange

herbs – bay, chervil, coriander, dill, mint, parsley, rosemary and thyme

honey and sugar

nuts – almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios

raisins, currants and sultanas

sesame, including tahini

spices – black onion seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander seeds, cumin and fennel seeds

ginger, paprika, star anise

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