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Purple sprouting broccoli is in season now, so do buy it quickly – it tends to go out of season around the end of April. My pledge to cook seasonally.

purple sprouting broccoli

Purple Broccoli & Sprout Gratin

So how am I getting along, since returning to London?

My first 2 big shopping trips were pretty good.  The first online, so somethings were a bit of my control. The second in person, and I remembered to check that my veggies were from the UK.  I also made an extra effort to choose organic if I could afford it.  I’m ashamed to admit that in a moment of drooling I was enticed by a pack of heavily reduced figs (my favourite), not even stopping to think that they are obviously not seasonal or local to the UK in March – from Chile in fact.   Of course we are always going to want to eat foods not from our local fields – avocados or almonds imported from California, coconut oil from the tropics is a perfect example – but a 80/20 local/imported rule could be something to aspire to for sure. This is a life long commitment for me, so I’ll make sure to make one positive step towards my goal at a time.  Resisting buying berries outside of their season is going to be hard – but they never quite taste as sweet do they?

On to the recipe.

Purple sprouting broccoli is, as you may have guessed, related to traditional tree-looking broccoli.  I love that broccoli looks like a tree.  Writing that makes me smile because I’ve just had a strong memory of Sunday dinners in the Jones house.  Broccoli was always called trees – as in “I’ll have some trees and carrots with my chicken please”.  A silly thing my Mum probably made up so that we’d enjoy eating our greens, believing we were eating small trees.  I wish I could remember if I believed her.  I’m sure I did.  I digress….  Purple sprouting broccoli, along with the also seasonal Brussels spouts in in this recipe are cruciferous vegetables.  They are both vitamin & mineral loaded, cancer preventative, detoxifying, oestrogen binding super vegetables!

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Rather than just steam and munch the broccoli as I side I wanted to do something a little more fancy.  Perhaps roast then mix into a salad or stir fry with a delicious sauce?  Thanks to vegetable expert Hugh Fearnlesy-Whittingstall I happened on a gratin idea, which I have adapted.   In my version absent of cream or breadcrumbs, the blanched greens retain a  delicate al dente crunch under the umami anchovy garlicky buttery sauce.  With crunchy almonds to finish the dish, you’ll never feel shortchanged that there are no breadcrumbs in this gratin.  It really turned out into a super seasonal side dish, which I served alongside an oven baked cod loin en papillote.

Purple sprouting broccoli is absolutely right on season now, so do buy it quickly – it tends to go out of season sometime around the end of April.

What would you do with purple broccoli?  Does it look like a tree??

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Purple Sprouting Broccoli & Sprout Gratin
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A grain & cheese free gratin, showcasing seasonal purple sprouting broccoli and not-just-for-christmas Brussels sprouts.
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: British
Serves: 2
  • 150g purple sprouting broccoli, rough stems trimmed
  • 100g Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced lengthways
  • ½ Tbs olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs almond milk
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Steam the broccoli and sprouts until tender - approx 5 mins.
  2. Meanwhile heat up the grill, and make the sauce. Take a pan and heat the oil on low. Saute the garlic until softened, 3 mins. Add the anchovy fillets and break them up with the back of your wooden spoon till melted into the garlic. Add the butter and when melted add the almond milk. Stir constantly bringing the sauce together and allow it to reduce and thicken. Season.
  3. When the veggies are done drain and move to a dish suitable for going under the grill. Pour over the sauce.
  4. Combine the herbs and almonds with a pinch of salt and twist of black pepper and sprinkle over the veggies. Place under the grill until golden brown (approx 5 minutes). Watch like a hawk!
  5. Serve with main of choice.