It’s time to celebrate, the new seasons crops are ready.
The first new crops of the season are extra special. I’ve waited all winter to taste fresh new growth. The plants themselves have sat throughout the winter months, taking a battering from the weather – be it rain, snow, wind or frost, and yes some weak rays of warmth from the sun.
And what better way to celebrate than with Purple Sprouting Broccoli. The seeds were sown in late April last year, planted out sometime in May and have weathered neglect marvellously. This year I grew some under the Climbing French Beans, a suggestion I picked up from a gardening forum. It worked – the pigeons couldn’t get to the plants, what is it about Pigeons and their love of greens? And the usual caterpillar damage and white fly infestations that are often a problem here, simply didn’t happen.
I spotted the first signs of the tender stems of Purple Sprouting Broccoli in February, but have had to wait till now before I was able to get a proper picking. On Friday I collected a carrier bag full, too much just for me, friends were invited and before I knew it we had a splendid evening planned with dishes made and brought along, wine consumed alongside plenty of chat and laughter.
I love them lightly steamed, don’t boil these babies – there’s no need. You want to cook them so that they still retain some crunch. A few minutes is all it takes. When cooked they are the deepest green you can imagine, almost black in colour. I’m convinced you can taste the vitamins and iron! We ate them plain with butter and salt and pepper. They have a delicate flavour and don’t need anything fancy. Dressed with anchovy butter is divine, but one of my favourites is to have them mixed in with some Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino.
I got lucky, there were leftovers, a rarity in this house. So I had them cold the next day, dressed with an Asian Style Vinaigrette of soy, rice wine vingear, lime juice, garlic, chilli and some toasted sesame seeds. Bliss!
They are in the ground for a long time, getting on for a year, but with careful planning and planting they don’t take up too much room. And those first tender stems are worth the wait! It will soon be time to start sowing again…..
Purple Sprouting Broccoli – from RealSeeds – Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli