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Love Your GreensThis recipe for Penne with Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Pine Nuts, Chilli and Lemon has been reproduced courtesy of Love Your Greens

Purple Sprouting BroccoliBritain’s purple sprouting broccoli growers were facing catastrophe in early June (2011) for a second time in twelve months when the crop was nearly ruined by the dry weather, but recent rainfall has set them back on track for an excellent, healthy and plentiful crop.  Purple sprouting broccoli, which has seen a huge rise in popularity in the last five years with nearly 5,000 tonnes grown in the UK, has come into its summer season early due to the recent, unseasonably warm weather.

British growers start the summer season in June, and plant a winter crop in the autumn, making purple sprouting broccoli an almost year round vegetable. It is a plant which needs a good level of water and the progress of this season’s successful crop has had its challenges.

Cultivated by the Romans, broccoli has been grown in the UK since the early Eighteenth century but purple sprouting broccoli has only come to prominence in the last five years.

Matthew Fort, food critic and presenter of the Great British Menu comments: “Purple sprouting broccoli has a delicate flavour and beautiful leaves which add colour to any dish. It’s a chef’s delight, with a refined flavour. However it’s as much a gourmet food as it is a family vegetable, given how easy it is to prepare, the subtleness of the flavour and soft texture which has wide appeal.”

Not just pretty on the plate, purple sprouting is one of the most nutritious vegetables on the market.  It is packed with vitamin C and is a good source of carotenoids, iron, folic acid, calcium, fibre and vitamin A. Purple sprouting contains more calcium and folic acid than other varieties of broccoli and about 1 - 3 servings (170g) of broccoli a week is believed to lower the risk of cancer.

For more information about purple sprouting broccoli and other vegetables in the brassica family visit –

Penne with Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Pine Nuts, Chilli and LemonThis recipe is very useful right from early spring through to mid-Autumn when purple sprouting broccoli is in season and tender. By blanching the stems lightly, you can still keep that vibrant, beautiful green and purple colour that makes the dish come alive. You could use almost any brassica in this recipe, like a sweetheart hispi cabbage, or a savoy cabbage, it is so versatile.

Ingredients for Penne with Purple Sprouting Broccoli

400g purple sprouting broccoli
400g Penne pasta
100g pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsps olive oil for pan frying
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
Sea salt and pepper
1 unwaxed lemon, the zest removed and the juice squeezed

How to make Penne with Purple Sprouting Broccoli

  • Wash and trim the purple sprouting broccoli, discarding any tough parts to the stalks and cutting them into 2 cm pieces. Set aside.
  • Heat a large saucepan of water, and when the water is boiling, pour in the penne pasta. Boil the pasta for approximately 12 minutes, until it is soft but still has a bite to it. When ready, drain the pasta.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat a smaller saucepan of water on the stove, and when the water is boiling, blanch the purple sprouting broccoli for no more than 3 minutes. Drain and leave to cool on a preparation tray.
  • Toast the pine nuts in a dry non-stick frying pan. Be very careful not to burn them. The secret is to keep shaking the pan so they do not stick to the bottom and burn.
  • Take a heavy saucepan and heat the oil.
  • Add the finely chopped shallot, garlic and red chilli, along with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly grated black pepper. Soften the vegetables quite gently, adding a small amount of water to help create steam in the pan.
  • When the vegetables in the pan are soft, add the cooked pasta, the lemon zest, a little of the lemon juice and the toasted pine nuts.
  • Mix well and fry for 3 minutes.
  • Add the blanched purple sprouting broccoli, mix well, and then turn off the heat.
  • Serve on a warm platter, with extra lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.
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Serves 4 as a starter

Love Your Greens

Published with permission of Love Your Greens

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