How To Cook Purple Sprouting Broccoli

27 02 2008

Sprouting BroccoliPurple sprouting broccoli is in peak season at the moment and it’s best eaten as soon as possible after picking – so veg boxes, farm shops and farmers’ markets are a great way of getting hold of it. And it’s not just purple; you can get it in green, too.

Purple sprouting broccoli is packed with vitamins and minerals and is really good for you, particularly when it’s fresh. You eat it whole – leaves, stems, heads and all. The heads are actually immature flowers. (Useless fact for the day!).

I have to confess I had never tried sprouting broccoli until 18 months ago. My next door neighbour had a surplus on his allotment and said I could pick it any time. I politely thanked him, because until then, my only experience of this spring vegetable had been slightly limp and soggy, and it tended to gently compost itself at the back of the fridge.

When picking from Pete’s allotment, I happened to munch a bit, just as it was, and I discovered that it’s absolutely delicious! The problem previously had been that I had been keeping it for too long, before using it.

So here are some quick ideas for enjoying purple sprouting broccoli:

  • Eat it raw – just wash it and then eat it in salad or with a dip such as hummus, for a lovely snack.
  • Cook it as a side vegetable – wash and steam for 3-5 minutes, until just softening. Serve immediately.
  • Stir fry it – wash and dry well. Stir fry (covered) for 3-5 minutes in sesame oil. Delicious with toasted sesame seeds!
  • Wash it and slice finely (the stems and the heads and leaves) to add to rice for a couple of minutes or combine with a pasta sauce, for example – it’s so quick!
  • Make a feature of it – try broccoli & kale stir fry or spring vegetable quinoa
  • Generally, cook it as you would whole head broccoli / calabrese, but for slightly less time. The flavour is similar but more delicate.

Try out our broccoli recipes:

If you have a favourite way of cooking purple sprouting broccoli, please share it!


Clare x

Broccoli Recipes



46 responses

27 02 2008
Solomon Broad

I tend to steam it for a few minutes, and treat it like ordinary broccoli. I bet it would be nice in a cheese sauce, like cauliflower cheese.

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[…] I steamed my beloved purple sprouting broccoli from Radford Mill organic farm shop, having sliced its woody stems into smaller tubes so they would […]

10 04 2010
jon david

try this , lightly cooked purple sprouting brocolli covered with curry sauce,much better than having stogey chips with it

7 05 2010
VegBox Recipes

Curry sauce, eh Jon?! I can imagine that being quite satisfying, actually … Do you make your own curry sauce though?🙂

8 02 2012
Sylvia Morris

I’ve discovered this wonderful vegetable too, tasty and wonderful roasted along with other vegetables coasted in olive oil. It is inclined to burn quickly, so put some tinfoil over it until tender then take foil off for a few last minutes . Wonderful and the flavour is amazing…..

28 03 2012

1 roast some pine nuts.
2 remove nuts from heat to a bowl or other storage
3 in a pan heat some olive oil on low and throw in the broccoli. stir. cook on lowest setting for a while until it seems partially cooked (to your taste).
4 add 1 clove of chopped garlic, some raisins/sultanas, and the pine nuts.
5 have another pan of water boiling
6 add gnocchi to the water and cook until it floats (2-3 mins)
7 strain gnocchi and add to the other pan and grate parmesan over it and stir
8 serve!

11 07 2012
Robin Carrie

Hi, i have P.S.B growing in old fish boxes, the leaves are as big as my hand. Can the leaves be eaten before the brocolli has fully sprouted?

Thanks in advance

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