Purple sprouting is the first, joyful sign of spring in my vegetable garden. It’s an unfussy friend in the kitchen, taking to pretty much every flavour. Here is my favourite treatment of it, with fennel seed and chilli spiced sasuagemeat, as delicious tossed with pasta as it is with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and a hunk of crusty bread.
2 tablespoons olive oil
scant teaspoon dried chilli flakes
3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1½ teaspoons fennel seeds, bashed
650g good-quality pork sausagemeat (or sausages, squeezed out of their skins)
600g purple sprouting broccoli, chopped a little
juice of 1 lemon
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the chilli, garlic and fennel seeds until the garlic is golden and all is fragrant.
Crumble in the sausagemeat, turning it well in the mixture, and breaking it up to form mince. Then leave it to cook so that the bottom becomes golden and well coloured. Turn the meat and break it up again and cook on the other side until well coloured.
Meanwhile, blanch the broccoli for 1 minute in boiling, salted water, then drain. When, and only when, the meat is well coloured, add the broccoli, turning it well to coat in the oil. Add the lemon juice, partly cover and leave to cook for 5 minutes, stirring and turning from time to time. The broccoli will still be fairly crunchy but this adds to its appeal.
Stir again to check everything is evenly cooked, scrunch over salt, then divide between plates and eat immediately, with a dollop of yohgurt or crème fraîche and plenty of good bread.
Joanna Weinberg has written cookery columns for The Times, Red and currently Conde Nast Traveller. She runs Kitchen Table Cookery School at The Talbot Inn, Mells, Somerset. This spring, Kitchen Table Cookery School will be running a new series of tasting evenings, the Best of the Season, the first of which is on May 14, followed by a two-day summer cookery package on June 18-19. All details at kitchentablecookery