Purple sprouting broccoli is an important vegetable in the cook’s calendar. The earliest green vegetable to come into season in February, it anticipates spring by a month or so and introduces freshness to jaded winter palates. The Italians have a fairly similar member of the cabbage family known as cima di rape, which they combine with anchovies, chillies and garlic as a sauce for pasta. The same flavourings work well with our humble brassica.
Put a large pan of lightly salted water to boil. Put the anchovies, chillies, garlic and oil in a large frying pan and cook over a medium heat for 3 minutes. Stir well to crush the anchovies, and set aside. Boil the broccoli for 2 minutes and drain. Return the frying pan to a high flame and tip the broccoli in, stir and fry for a minute to thoroughly coat the vegetable with its flavourings. Serve hot or at room temperature with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Follow the above recipe, except cut the broccoli into small pieces. Boil some penne, or more authentically orecchiette, until al dente and toss these in the frying pan with the broccoli etc. This dish is best finished with some more oil and
© 1999 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.