Melanie Johnson shares her ways to make the most of this seasonal vegetable as it's at its best.
Purple-sprouting broccoli has an earthiness about it that really comes out when roasted — yet it can work just as well even in the simplest recipes.
Take boiled eggs, for example. Simply place a couple of eggs into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Place over a high heat and, when the water is boiling, add a few spears per egg and set the timer for three minutes. Run the eggs under cold water to stop them cooking further. Cut off the tops of the eggs and dip in the spears to eat.
They’re also wonderful in tempura. Combine 75g of plain flour and 75g of cornflour, then pour in 250ml of soda water and mix until smooth.
Dip in and coat the purple-sprouting broccoli before frying in an inch or so of vegetable oil until golden. Grate garlic into mayonnaise, add a squeeze of lemon and serve alongside. So simple, and so delicious.
For something that’s more of a main meal, however, the following recipe should hit the spot: a truly hearty dish.
Recipe: Bold-flavoured tomato orzo with roasted purple-sprouting broccoli
- Olive oil
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 75g nduja
- 1 courgette, diced
- ½ red pepper, diced
- 300g orzo
- 150ml white wine
- 1 x 400g tinned cherry tomatoes
- 1tbspn tomato paste (or substitute ketchup)
- 300g vegetable/chicken stock
- 40g baby spinach
- 1tbspn cream cheese
- 300g purple-sprouting broccoli
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2tbspn pine nuts, lightly toasted
Preheat your oven to 180˚C/160˚C fan/350˚F/Gas mark 4.
Over a medium heat, add a splash of olive oil to a large frying pan. Gently fry the chopped onion until soft, but not browned. Add the garlic and nduja, fry for a minute to release the flavours, and then add the courgette and red pepper. Cook for a few minutes to soften them.
Tip in the orzo, mix well to coat, before pouring over the white wine. Reduce the wine completely and then pour in the cherry tomatoes, add tomato paste, stock and baby spinach. Simmer gently for around 10 minutes or until the orzo is cooked. Stir through the cream cheese and season to taste.
Toss the purple sprouting broccoli and rosemary in olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Roast for about 8–10 minutes, by which time the leaves will be crispy. Discard the rosemary.
Serve the orzo with toasted pine nuts and Parmesan scattered over and with the purple-sprouting broccoli on top.
Tom Parker Bowles shares his advice for seasonal eating in April.