Purple sprouting broccoli with anchovy sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as a vegetable

Appears in

Robin Sutherland, the owner of the Old Compton Wine Bar, had a farm on the Isle of Wight, from which he supplied me with this uniquely British vegetable and the most delicious swill-fed pork (see Grillades de Porc). He was most insistent on barely cooking the broccoli, and this in 1974 when most vegetables were traditionally boiled for three weeks.

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.


  • 500 g purple sprouting broccoli, bigger stalks removed
  • salt and pepper
  • 50 g anchovies, preferably dry salted ones, soaked for half an hour in a couple of changes of water, then filleted and chopped
  • 3 small dried red chillies, very finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon


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.

Pasta Sauce

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 a little grated Feta cheese.