Hand drawn image of Purple sprouting broccoli

Purple sprouting broccoli

Brassica oleracea var. italica

To our delight, purple sprouting broccoli has enjoyed a renaissance. Vigorous, wild and woolly-looking, it’s a delicacy equal to asparagus. Not only that, it appears early, when other homegrown greens are in short supply. One of our favourite vegetables – a real seasonal star.

Image of Purple sprouting broccoli being produced

In the kitchen

Storage

Kept in its bag, it should keep for up to a week in your fridge, but is best eaten as soon as possible.

Prep & Cooking tips

Almost everything is edible in your bag of purple sprouting broccoli. You may need to trim the odd tough stalk end or discard the occasional discoloured leaf but everything else can go in the pot, pan or oven. For most recipes you’ll want equal-sized spears, so if you have a few larger and bunched stalks, split them down with a small knife. There is no reason that the smaller leaves can’t stay attached; the larger leaves make good greens just on their own.

At its freshest, purple sprouting broccoli should take no more than 3-4 mins in boiling salted water. Cook in small batches and check if it is done by nibbling the stalk end as this part takes the longest. When particularly young and tender it can be well served by gently frying over a medium heat in some oil and butter, or if cut small will benefit from the fast and furious attention of a wok as part of a stir-fry.

Video: How to Cook Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Easy ideas

1. Simple

Add a walnut sized knob of salted butter and a generous flourish of freshly ground pepper. It needs no more than a small squeeze of lemon to finish. Nothing fancy, it just works.

2. Salty

Mix with a small handful of chopped capers warmed in foaming butter, or try frying some sliced chorizo or salami until crisp, adding a little chopped parsley and throwing together. You can always mash a couple of salted anchovy fillets into a good mustardy vinaigrette and dress the warm florets. Cheese works in all its varying forms, blue cheese in particular, or married with a proper rarebit mix and grilled on hot toast.

3. Asian

Warm a little grated ginger, finely sliced garlic and chopped red chilli in a little sesame oil until the garlic starts to colour, throw together and season with a dash of soy sauce. You can always add small lightly steamed florets to a stir-fry or Thai curry.

Goes well with

Acidic flavours (Vinegars, Lemon juice)
Citrus (Lemon, Orange)
Herbs (Bay, Chervil, Coriander, Dill, Mint, Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme)
Honey and sugar
Nuts (Almonds, Hazelnuts, Pistachios)
Raisins, currants and sultanas
Sesame, including tahini
Spices (Black onion seeds, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Coriander seeds, Cumin, Fennel seeds, Ginger, Paprika, Star anise)

Purple sprouting broccoli recipes

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In the field

  • Meet the grower: John Walter Symons, Borough Farm

    John Walter-Symons runs Borough Farm near Holbeton; the rolling fields are filled with vegetables and cereal crops, as well as free-roaming organic sheep.

    Read more

Seasonality

Grown at our farms it's an ideal winter veg with harvesting from February to May.
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