Purple sprouting - its the new broccoli

As its rather charming name suggests, purple sprouting broccoli is an unusual yet commonly used ingredient in most British homes nowadays, though it wasn’t always so readily available for us to cook with! Broccoli, a member of the cabbage family and closely related to the cauliflower, has been grown in the UK since the early 18th century but purple sprouting broccoli has only been gracing our dining tables for the last 30 years or so.

So what makes this broccoli look-a-like different? For one, it offers a sweeter flavour in comparison to normal broccoli, often milder on the palate. This is mostly due to the fact that the florets have been harvested while young, lending to its tender texture.

Secondly, it’s purple! We all know how kids love to kick up a fuss over eating their “greens”, well there, problem solved, it’s not green. As to be expected, the purple hue often adds an extra wow factor to dinner plates, making it favourable over normal broccoli for chefs and home cooks alike.

And due to purple sprouting broccoli’s early harvesting, the stems are packed with even more good stuff than your standard green broccoli, vital nutrients such as vitamins A and C, iron, potassium (great for the heart as we all know) and folic acid. Hands up if you’re always trimming the woody/tough stems off of normal broccoli, myself included! Well, no longer. Young broccoli means lovely tender and juicy stems that we would definitely recommend leaving on your plate.

When selecting your purple sprouting broccoli, check for crispy and easy to snap stems – bendy stems are a big, not fresh no no. You’ll want to avoid any pale or yellowing florets and head straight for the darkly purpled ones, this is a great indication that you will have chosen produce that is jam-packed with nutrients. And as little as four purple sprouting broccoli heads with their stems count as your 1 of 5 a day, easy!

As with any fresh vegetables, ensure you rinse thoroughly either under a cool tap or in a bucket of water, ensuring that all the grit has gone down the drain and not onto your plate. Now that you’ve got a deliciously fresh and wonderfully prepped ingredient, why not make a simple and quick batch of grilled purple sprouting broccoli, here’s how:

Get out your trusty griddle pan and pop it on the stove to heat up while you trim and wash the broccoli, gently pat dry

Toss the broccoli in rapeseed oil, cracked black pepper and Malden sea salt

Once your griddle pan is hot, grill the broccoli for 3 minutes on each side

And to finish off, add an extra drizzle of cold-pressed rapeseed oil and sprinkle with crumbled Cornish yarg and serve – yum!

Not feeling the cooking inspiration currently? No worries, head down to one of our London cafes instead, we’ll be showcasing purple sprouting broccoli throughout our café menus for the month of February! Order, sit and enjoy.

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