A Spring Delicacy
Sprouting broccoli, also known as the “poor man’s asparagus” (Guardian), is a cultivated variety of broccoli with long, thin, bright green leafy stems and many small flower heads.
Sprouting broccoli was bred to withstand very cold winter temperatures.The plants grow slowly during fall and winter months. When temperatures starts rising in late winter to early spring, they produce prolific amounts of small flower heads on long, thin, bright green leafy stems. The flower heads may be purple, green, purplish-green or white depending on the variety.
Sprouting broccoli is harvested and marketed in spring, when the sprouts are still tender and mild flavoured. It’s much sweeter and more tender than the typical Calabrese, fall broccoli. The leaves, flower heads and stalks are all tender and edible.
Compared to Calabrese broccoli, it has many small shoots, rather than a single compact head.
How to Buy Sprouting Broccoli
Look for firm, crisp, green stalks, no bigger than 1cm in diameter, with tightly packed purplish green heads. The stalks should snap when broken and the florets should be closed and not open.
How to Prepare and Cook Sprouting
Most of the stems should be thin and long. Split thicker stems. All parts of the sprouting broccoli (stems, leaves, and stalks) are edible. Wash in cold water.
Sprouting broccoli is best steamed, stir fried or blanched. Boiling is an alternative but it will not give the best results.
We eat vegetables because they are low in calories so avoid adding cream or fatty cheeses. Instead sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese, or sesame seeds or a few slivered or sliced almonds.
How to Store Sprouting Broccoli
Store in the refrigerator crisper for a few days. Freezing is not recommended because the stems will become limp and unpleasant looking after thawing.
They guys are best eaten fresh and are best steamed, blanched or stir-fried, not boiled for a long time.