Spring Simplicity

The last of the crops in the vegetable garden are dwindling in numbers as we pick and eat them. But more than that, the longer warmer days of Spring are bringing plants productive lives to an end as they start to form flowers heads and go to seed. For me this is a true signal that the season is officially changing, time for me to leave a few plants to go to flower for the bees and buzzies to enjoy, the rest needs to be picked and cleared to make way for summer plantings.

Brassica are a staple of the winter and spring garden – but this is entirely dependant on my success or otherwise as a grower. The winter cabbages and cauliflowers were rather sad and sorry this year, but the Kales and Purple Sprouting Broccoli have been fabulous. Time to focus on the positives and work out what went wrong with the negatives later.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli is a member of the Broccoli family – what we normally see in the shops is the standard green heads of broccoli, or rather Calabrese. The Sprouting kind looks and tastes distinct. It literally produces fine individual stalks or sprouts with tiny heads on, is hardy and perfect for overwintering for harvesting in Spring, as the RHS say – ” filling the gap between sprouts and spring cabbage.”

As the seasons change and the last pickings of Purple Sprouting Broccoli get nearer, my thoughts turn to sowing next years crop – I’ll start the seeds off, outside in modules or pots for transplanting later (slugs like PSB too!) and then I will plant them into some rich soil that has some extra manure dug in to it. Last year I trialled growing them under the climbing beans, a great use of space seeing as these plants are in the ground for 9 months, and as it turns out a perfect way to stop the pigeons pecking away at my precious Spring food. And if you want a picture of what pigeons or chickens can achieve when they get the munchies check out the photo on Willow Cottage Garden, it could reduce me to tears!

Spring Simplicity Pasta

So as the season’s change I’ll give you my favourite way to eat this Spring delicacy – simply mixed in with Linguine Ali Olio. A perfect workday-weekday supper – tasty, filling but light and nutritious.

Put your pasta on to cook, chop a garlic clove or two and gently saute the garlic (don’t brown it) alongside a dried red chilli in some olive oil. When the pasta is nearly ready add the Purple Sprouting Broccoli to the garlic chilli and stir it in. Put a lid on and cook for 3 – 4 minutes max, we don’t want soggy vegges now do we! Drain the pasta and add it to the veggies, mixing it in well. Drizzle a little olive oil on top, season with sea salt and black pepper and serve in bowls with some grated Pecorino or Parmesan.

See I said it was Simple.


  • The pasta looks delicious! Mind you, I’m not sure I will ever get around to being structured enough to have vegetable crops throughout the year, so perhaps I’ll just replicate the recipe with another vegetable (from the shops).

    • Hi there and thanks – it’s a bit of a staple meal for us and the likes of spinach and chard would work well. It’ taken a bit of time to get round to being organised for winter growing, and there is still room for improvement on my part !

  • Lovely post. I am very envious of your beautiful PSP plants. We love the idea about planting with the beans and we are going to give it a try this year. Thanks for the tip!

  • One of my favorite quick pasta methods…the veggies change depending on what’s coming in, and sometimes there’s a bit of bacon or pancetta so Hubby doesn’t whine about the lack of meat 😉

    One of these years, I’ll have to give that sprouting broccoli a try…too much chaos this year.

    • Hi Marie, we sometimes make this pasta with prawns – yes I know it’s fishy and not meaty 😉
      I’d really recommend the broccoli – it’s stronger tasting than normal, and becasue it sprouts there is plenty to eat from a couple of plants

    • Thanks Frugal, I managed to take the wrong camera lens with me, but ended up with a couple of decent shots 🙂 What I need to sort out is some lighting for home…..

  • I keep reading about PSB. It sounds great but I have never seen it at the garden centers or even in the markets. I’ll have to do some research.

    • Hi Karen, it’s interesting to hear that you don’t see PSB, I never see it in France either so I wonder if it’s a particular favourite veggie in the UK? It’s very seasonal, doesn’t have a long shelf life and picking is done by hand (not machines) so maybe it’s not popular for farmers to grow?

  • I saw beautiful broccoli at the farmers’ market yesterday and wanted some but just said no: right now we have chard and beets to eat. I don’t think I’ve seen purple sprouting broccoli here. I would like your pasta.

    • I think it is stronger in flavour than the normal, and yes a teeny bit bitter but it’s almost like you can taste the vitamin Bs and Iron when you ar eeating it! I need to ask around my friends to try and get some good descriptions!

  • I noticed Sharyn’s comment and she is Northern California, I am in Southern. And I, too, don’t think I’ve every seen the purple sprouting broccoli! But I am fascinated with it. I am going to see if I can get some seeds and follow your example, Claire. I love the simplicity of the pasta dish and can just taste the garlic and olive oil, and it’s not yet 9:00 in the morning 🙂 It’s never too early for this kind of meal! I really enjoy hearing how you plan ahead in your garden. I think that’s my frequent downfall…I don’t plan as much as I could! Debra

    • Hi Debra, it’s taken me a while to get more organised and to understand what to sow and when, besides I love my winter veggies so much!
      The lack of PSB in N America is proving interesting to me, I wonder why? if you can’t find any seeds I’m sure I could pop a few in an envelope for you 🙂

  • Claire, these are my kind of eats! Easy, nutritious and delicious! Ah, but no broccoli of any kind here on the Farmlet, so I will have to substitute with another lovely instead… ~ Lynda

  • Ah, Claire! You’ve been reading my mind! I was lucky enough to find some baby artichokes on Friday and some are destined for a pasta dinner tonight. After all the mascarpone of late, aglio e olio is the only way to go! I’ll join the others and say that I’ve never seen PSB either. Perhaps I’ll see some next weekend when the farmers market returns. I hope so. I wouldn’t mind another pasta dinner next Sunday night, too! 🙂

    • Oh John, now I have artichoke envy!! And I’d love to know ho wyou prepare them, maybe a future post for us Bartolini fans 🙂 As you know sometimes simple pasta is unbeatable

    • I’m just plain jealous thinking about 2 proper growing seasons. Humph!!! Mind you I do get a few winter veggies, but could always do with more 🙂

  • Hello, love this simple supper – will have to try to find some baby broccoli, not something we are growing ourselves this year.
    Thank you so much for following my blog. I shall enjoy following yours too. All the best from Cornwall, UK

    • 🙂 Everytime I eat something from the garden I can’t help but think of the next crop – we are coming to the end of our winter squash which I’m about to starting sowing ! And on the garden cycle goes

  • I am amazed that you are getting anything from your garden this time of year! I have planted my first broccoli. It is growing tall, but I don’t see any florets yet. I keep hoping, but I think the plants could use more sun.

    • Oh I wish you and your garden well! I sometimes struggle with greens in the summer, and have yet to do really well with broccoli – probably a case of “can do better”, much like my school reports 🙂

  • Aglio e olio was my one and only favorite pasta I’d eat when I was young.. must be it’s simplicity of flavor and the essence of garlic! But with purple sprouting broccoli.. why it’s truly gourmet, Claire!! Hahha.. I need to be “cool” like everyone else and call it PSB:)

  • I have just today found your blog and by chance I made an almost identical supper last night. I too have failed with winter veg on the allotment other than PS Broccoli and the pigeons ate my Hungry Gap Kale. But l learn from these gaps and there is always next year.

    • Hi and lovely to meet you 🙂 I find I have to net all my greens as the pigeons really seem to love them. It doesn’t make for a very attractive plot but at least I get to eat some of my hard work !

  • Never have I seen purple brocolli! That is the coolest item of the day. And the pasta looks scrumptious. Just ate our first of the season Blue Lake Green beans last night for dinner, and it makes me put pressure on the tomatoes to hurry up and ripen 🙂 Nothing like fresh from the garden…in our case, the patio!

    • I love Blue Lake beans – so tasty!! And a patio – hey that makes it even faster from garden to kitchen 🙂
      The purple sprouting broccoli is special and gorgeous, if you can find some seeds I’d really recommend growing it. For me it fits a real gap in the growing season – when not much else is growing these delicious morsels are ripe for picking.

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