Purple sprouting broccoli is one of the few crops to welcome us into the new year and see us through a brief period of mid to late winter. Contrary to its short harvesting season, it has a long growing season, so what you’re eating now will have been sown around this time last year! The plant produces florets on side stems, as well as a main head similar to calabrese varieties.
This beautiful brassica is entirely edible – florets, leaves, stalk and all – although it would be wise to trim off the bottom of the stalks where it’s a bit woody. It can prepared many ways, most simply steamed for 3 minutes. Cooking it for a short amount of time will retain that lovely crunch and vibrant colour.
Although perfectly delicious steamed, tossed in oil or butter with a little salt and garlic, either mixed with pasta or as a side to a fish or meat based dish, it is a marvellous vehicle for flavour. This versatile vegetable is a great addition to stir fries, and is delicious shallow fried in a light tempura batter, accompanied by soy sauce and sweet chilli dips. One of my favourite ways of preparing it is with a buttery lemon sauce to accompany lemon roast potatoes and a poached egg.