Melanie Johnson welcomes the arrival of Spring - and with it, the season of purple sprouting broccoli.

Purple sprouting broccoli is a welcome harbinger of spring and a move away from all those root vegetables.

I serve it quite simply, so as to fully enjoy the sweet and nutty flavour.

The following recipe serves four.

Pot-roast chicken with walnuts, pomegranate seeds and purple sprouting broccoli

Ingredients

  • 1 free-range chicken
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 150ml white wine
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 1 slice sourdough bread, broken into crumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 50g walnuts, chopped
  • 100g pomegranate seeds
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 400g purple sprouting broccoli

Method

Preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4.

Brown the whole chicken in a large, ovenproof, lidded casserole dish, with a splash of olive oil, for about 10 minutes. Remove the bird to a plate.

To the same casserole dish, add the onion, carrots, celery and herbs. You will discard these at the end, so no need to chop too perfectly – but keep them all to use in the soup recipe below. Fry until the vegetables start to soften, then pour in the white wine and simmer gently to reduce, before adding the stock.

Return the chicken to the dish, put the lid on and cook in the oven for about an hour or until the juices run clear.

Meanwhile, gently fry the breadcrumbs, garlic and walnuts in a little olive oil. Once lightly browned, remove them from the heat and stir in the pomegranate seeds and lemon zest.

Steam the purple sprouting broccoli gently for a few minutes, so it retains its colour.

When it’s ready, remove the chicken from the oven and strain the cooking juices into a jug, discarding the vegetables (but you could eat them, if you wish).

Carve the meat and divide between four plates, with the purple sprouting broccoli on the side. Top with the pomegranate-and-walnut mixture and a little of the cooking juices and serve immediately.


More ways with purple sprouting broccoli

Purple sprouting broccoli gratin

Purple broccoli soup

This soup makes use of the juices and vegetables from the main recipe. Tip the stock and discarded vegetables (carrot, celery and onion) into a saucepan, bring to a simmer and add a few handfuls of purple sprouting broccoli.

Once tender, use a stick blender to purée and add a splash of cream. Serve piping hot, with a drizzle of truffle oil.

Purple-sprouting-broccoli gratin

Gently steam 400g of purple sprouting broccoli and arrange in a shallow baking dish.

Pour over enough chicken stock to almost, but not quite, cover it. Add a few tablespoons of cream, grate Parmesan cheese over it and place in a hot oven for 5 minutes.