The Great British Chefs blog: in praise of purple sprouting broccoli

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th March 2014
This is one of a series of monthly blogs on seasonal ingredients and their uses in some of the world’s best kitchens from food blogger and head of social media at Great British Chefs, Mecca Ibrahim. Right now is the best time to get your hands on the more fashionable version of MT-Roasted-Cod-Pork Belly & PSBstandard broccoli.  Did you know that it’s of Roman origin?  Purple sprouting broccoli, or let’s call it PSB to be bang on trend, has been grown since ancient times and was a much loved vegetable of the Romans, who went on to cultivate the hardy calabrese broccoli which we all know and love today.  Once only to be found at farmers’ markets or organic food stores, it’s now plentiful on the shelves of major food supermarkets. Bursting with carotenoids, folic acid, calcium, fibre, iron and vitamins A and C it’s a perfect antioxidant, antimicrobial and antidiabetic, so becomes a great all-rounder for those who like to have a very healthy diet. In addition to all the health benefits it tastes great. Most enjoy its leafiness which has a kale-like quality.  Purple sprouting broccoli is available all year round but is simply at its best in the UK in JE024-Purple-sprouting-broccoli 2March and April. When buying PSB make sure that the leaves look fresh and are not tough at the edges. It is very easy to overcook broccoli, as the florets cook quicker than the stems. When overcooked, PSB will fall apart and lose its vibrant colour. The most common way to cook it, is to boil in salted water for three-four minutes, however you can also steam it.  Remember that you can use all parts of PSB, the purple flowers, the leaves and the stem.  However, if you’re cooking stem pieces they’ll need slightly longer than the rest of the plant. Purple sprouting broccoli complements fish or meat really well, you could even partner it with both in the same dish as Matthew Tomkinson of The Terrace at The Montagu Arms in the New Forest demonstrates. Cod and pork belly may seem like an unlikely combination but his recipe of Cod with Simon Hulstone-pork-belly-psbpork belly, purple sprouting broccoli and lemon butter sauce proves that it works. The PSB gives this delicious recipe a more seasonal twist.  Simon Hulstone of The Elephant in Torquay also acknowledges the great pairing of PSB with pork belly.  The meat has become a fixture on many menus over the last few years and its success can be put down to its intense, umami flavour and crispy crackling. This pork belly with apple puree and purple sprouting broccoli dish brings the best out of the cut. Josh Eggleton of The Pony & Trap in Chew Magna uses PSB as a fantastic side dish.  Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Hazelnuts makes use of the contrasting textures of the Tom Aikens - Black Bream and PSBveg and nuts.   The hazelnut flavour is further added to this side in the form of hazelnut oil.  Serve this side with roasts as well as other vegetarian dishes. Tom Aikens serves PSB with fish in this delicious Black Bream with toasted almonds and Brown Shrimp.   The earthy broccoli together with a broccoli purée flatter the pan-fried fillets of black bream - an underrated and inexpensive fish. For more PSB dishes from some of Britain’s leading chefs, head over to Great British Chefs purple sprouting broccoli recipe collection.   Mecca-IbrahimMecca is Head of Social Media at Great British ChefsAt work she is known for her chocolate desserts and boundless enthusiasm for social media. She has spent the last 10 years in community management and online marketing at some of the biggest and most innovative internet businesses out there (Yahoo, Justgiving, moo.com and Joost).  She also hosts an annual food blogging competition called Nom Nom Nom.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th March 2014

The Great British Chefs blog: in praise of purple sprouting broccoli