Giant Broccoli

At the beginning of this year I planted broccoli, both the Purple Sprouting, and the pretty lime green Romanesco varieties. The plants grew… and they grew… and they grew… They were massive, but no flowers appeared, just more leaves and they got taller. I was getting ready to pull them out and send them over to Maggie’s chooks, when someone mentioned that dumping some ash from the fire around them may spur them into flowering mode.

With the cold weather we had no shortage of ash and as soon as the bucket was filled, it would be emptied around the bases of the various plants. Finally, there was action, flowers appeared, first in the Romanesco, and finally the Purple Sprouting variety was in full bloom! I just had to get Gary to take photos of me with my giant broccoli plants, I stand at 165 cm or 5 feet 6 inches, just so you have an idea of how tall and prolific they are!

The next issue was – what was I going to do with all of this broccoli! With the Romanesco being quite like cauliflower, the first thing I decided to do was make Great Gran’s Cauliflower Pickles, I had run out recently and the larder needed to be replenished.

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Then I hit the books, I found a recipe for pickled cauliflower and another for an Asian vegetable pickle that could be added to a stir fry. I decided that the former would be made with the Romanesco and the latter with the Purple sprouting variety.

But still the Purple Sprouting variety produced more and more and more!!! With another cooking lesson to prepare for, where I would be teaching Maggie how to make her own gluten free pasta, I decided that I needed to do a practice run, and the sauce would have to have Purple Sprouting broccoli in it.

The pasta was a hit, both here at home, and at Maggies, in fact I showed her how to make her pasta and then make two different ravioli – so as she was finishing off her ravioli, I made our lunch, Homemade Gluten Free Pasta with Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Fresh Herbs, Tuscan Salami and Crunchy Garlic Bread Crumbs.

Pasta with Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Fresh Herbs, Tuscan Salami and Crunchy Garlic Breadcrumbs

A recipe born from a glut of broccoli!

Ingredients

  • 360 g dry or 440 g fresh pasta
  • 20 g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 100 g Tuscan salami cut into thin julienne
  • 2 tbsp finely diced French shallot
  • 4 tbsp garlic greens or 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 6 anchovy fillets, chopped (optional)
  • 2 bunches of purple sprouting broccoli, chopped (see note below)
  • 1 cup of baby broccoli leaves (optional)
  • 4 tbsp verjuice
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to season
  • Sea salt, to season
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp baby capers, rinsed

For the crumb

  • 6 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp butter

Directions

  1. To make the crumb:
  • Preheat the oven to 200˚ C / 400˚F (fan).
  • Combine the thyme leaves, breadcrumbs and crushed garlic together.
  • Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread the crumb mix evenly on the lined tray. Dot the crumbs with the butter and bake 5 – 10 minutes until the crumbs are nice and crispy. Set aside
  1. Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions.
  2. Meanwhile place a large frying pan over medium heat and add the olive oil, butter, salami and shallot and sauté until the shallot softens.
  3. Add the garlic greens, anchovies and chopped broccoli and cook stirring for 4 – 5 minutes.
  4. Add the verjuice and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  5. Drain the pasta and add to the broccoli mixture together with the parsley and toss through.
  6. Season with salt and pepper and divide between four serving plates.
  7. Sprinkle with parmesan and top with the crunchy garlic breadcrumbs, and finally scatter over the capers.
  8. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  • Chop the purple sprouting broccoli into small pieces of approx 1 – 1.5 cm (1/2 inch) for the florets and 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) for the stem. You will need 2 cups altogether.
  • Place a dish with a little extra grated parmesan and another with any left over crumbs on the table for people to help themselves.
  • If you do not have Purple Sprouting Broccoli, you could use or broccolini.

Until next time…

Happy gardening & bon appétit!

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