Purple Sprouting Broccoli – Seasonal Eating

Purple Sprouting Broccoli – Seasonal Eating

Purple sprouting has been cultivated since Roman times. It is only during the last 30 years that it has come to prominence in the U.K. As the name suggests purple sprouting gets it’s name from the purple colour of the head of the plant. Part of the reason that purple sprouting has become popular is due to the mild flavour. This tasty flavour compliments a variety of dishes and works well with salads, quiches, pasta bakes stir fries and any dish that you would use broccoli in.

Purple sprouting works well with salty ingredients, it pairs well with bacon, anchovies, parmesan and blue cheese. To achieve a sweeter and richer flavour it is often roasted, the flavour can also be enhanced with chilli and garlic. Purple sprouting’s bittersweet notes work well with game or red meat.

Cornish purple sprouting broccoli

Purple sprouting broccoli from a Cornish grower.

Broccoli or calabrese?

Like turnips and swedes, many people are confused by the difference between broccoli and calabrese. Where as turnips and swede are completely different, calabrese and broccoli are two varieties of the same vegetable. These different varieties have distinct characteristics which allow you to easily distinguish one from the other. Physically calabrese and broccoli look very different from each other. The head of calabrese is green, broccoli produces white or purple heads (referred to as white sprouting and purple sprouting). Calabrese has a mild flavour and a tender texture that is close to asparagus. Broccoli has a mildly bitter taste and is tougher than calabrese. Most of the plant is edible head,stalks and leaves. They are at their tastiest when they’re young. When buying purple sprouting look for the stalks to be around a centimetre in diameter. The heads should have a dark colour and the stalks should not droop.

One of the main causes of the confusion between the two stems from supermarkets branding and reselling both types under the same name.

Purple Sprouting Nutrition.

Purple sprouting is very nutritious, it is a great source of vitamin C and Vitamin A. It is also packed with carotenoids, calcium, folic acid, iron, fibre and other nutrients. It also contains sulporaphane a phyto-chemical that it is believed helps to prevent cancer and helps build resistance against heart disease, diabeties and osteoporosis.

Aside from being attractive and delicious, purple sprouting is also very nutritious. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and A, carotenoids, calcium, folic acid, iron, fiber and other nutrients.

7 interesting purple sprouting facts

  • Did you know that the producer of the classic James Bond movies was called Mr. Albert Broccoli?
  • Raw purple sprouting broccoli contains almost 90% water, 7% carbs and 3% protein, and almost no fat.
  • Purple sprouting broccoli was first cultivated by the Romans in the 6th Century BC.
  • Rich in vitamin A & C.
  • High in iron & potassium.
  • 4 spears of broccoli count as 1 of your 5 a-day.
  • Founding father of the US, Thomas Jefferson, was a huge broccoli fan. He imported it from Italy as early as May of 1767.


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