Bold as brassica: Mark Hix cooks with sprouting broccoli

It's tastier, prettier and more sophisticated than its commoner cousin

I'm a big fan of sprouting broccoli – it's got so much more sophistication than its common cousin, the calabrese, and it is also much less commonly seen on restaurant menus in this country.

Sprouting broccoli can be used in just the same way as asparagus and it has endless uses as a starter, as an accompaniment, or integrated into a dish. We have been buying white sprouting broccoli for our restaurants recently, and although it can look a bit anaemic on its own, it looks great when served alongside green or purple sprouting broccoli – and tastes delicious in its own right, too.

I do hope you're tempted to give the sprouting stuff a try – shoppers in this country just tend to fill their baskets with the common-or-garden variety, which tastes of nothing whatsoever.

Deep-fried sprouting broccoli with almonds, chilli and garlic

Serves 4 as a starter

This is a kind of vegetarian version of the fantastic soft-shell crab I often order in Yauatcha in Soho. I'm totally hooked, as you have probably gathered by now, on Doves Farm gluten-free self-raising flour – the stuff works like a dream when it comes to creating light battered dishes.

200-250g sprouting broccoli, trimmed of any woody stalks and washed
100g Doves Farm gluten-free self-raising flour
Cold water, to mix
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying
1 large red chilli, thinly sliced
4 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
40g flaked almonds

Cook the broccoli in boiling salted water for a couple of minutes then drain in a colander and leave to cool. Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large, thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer. Put the self-raising flour in a mixing bowl and whisk enough cold water in to make a light batter and season. Dip the broccoli in the batter and fry in a couple of batches for 2-3 minutes, moving them around with a slotted spoon, until crisp. Remove from the fat and drain on some kitchen paper and season with a little salt.

Transfer a couple of tablespoons of the hot oil to a frying pan and quickly cook the chilli and garlic on a medium heat for a minute, stirring and lightly colouring them; add the almonds, season with a little salt and continue cooking and stirring for a couple of minutes until the almonds are lightly coloured. To serve, lay the broccoli on a warmed serving dish and spoon the almond mixture over.

Fried duck egg with sprouting broccoli and anchovies

Serves 4

Everyone knows that asparagus can be dunked into a boiled egg or hollandaise sauce, and sprouting broccoli can be treated the same way. Here, I have just used the tips of the sprouting broccoli, so you could keep the stalks for the soup recipe below. The addition of anchovies creates a nice, natural, salty seasoning.

4 duck eggs
70-80g butter
4-5 spears of sprouting broccoli
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g can or jar of good-quality anchovies

Remove the florets and a few leaves from the broccoli and reserve the stems for a soup. Cook them in boiling, salted water for 2-3 minutes until tender, then drain and leave to cool. Meanwhile, melt half of the butter in a non-stick frying pan and gently fry the duck eggs, seasoning the whites as they are cooking, then transfer to warmed serving plates. While the eggs are cooking, melt the rest of the butter in another pan and toss in the broccoli florets and leaves, and lightly season. Cut the anchovies in half lengthways, scatter the broccoli and leaves around the eggs; lay the anchovy fillets on the whites.

Grilled chicken with broccoli

Serves 4

Try to buy the best free-range chicken breasts you can for this, or remove the breasts from a whole chicken and make some other dishes with the bones and legs. Some sprouting broccoli can have really woody stalks, but don't be tempted to use them for the purée or they will block your blender. You can also add a dash of vincotto for extra zing if you wish.

150-200g sprouting broccoli, trimmed of any woody ends
4 good-quality chicken breasts with the skin on
A little vegetable or corn oil for grilling
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A couple of good knobs of butter

Trim some florets from the sprouting broccoli and reserve to use as garnish later. Chop what remains with the stalks and cook in boiling salted water for 7-8 minutes until it's soft.

Drain the broccoli, then purée it in a food processor or liquidiser until fairly smooth, adding a few drops of water to help the broccoli blend if necessary. Transfer to a clean pan, season and add a knob or two of butter.

Meanwhile, heat a ribbed griddle or heavy frying pan, season the chicken breasts and cook for 3-4 minutes with the skin side down, then turn over and cook for 3-4 minutes on the other side. While the chicken is cooking, drop the florets in boiling salted water and cook for a couple of minutes, then drain and heat up the purée.

To serve, spoon the purée on to warmed serving plates, toss the florets in some butter and season. Cut the breasts in half and place on the purée and spoon the florets and butter over.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
Tattoo enthusiast Cammy Stewart poses for a portrait during the Great British Tattoo Show
In picturesThe Great British Tattoo Show
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?