Bouquets of Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Greetings, CSA family!
With a mixture of gorgeous sunny days, pouring rain, and surprise hailstorms, it must be early spring in Chimacum Valley! Here at the farm, it is certainly starting to feel like spring, with our greenhouse looking more abundant every day, full of young plants getting ready to be transplanted in our fields. Last week saw our first transplant of tender young lettuce plants! As the weather starts to warm, we are enjoying the fruits of our overwintered brassicas, which are starting to go to seed and send off their delicious offshoots known as raab! There are various kinds of raab to be found here: all of the different varieties of kale, collard greens and cabbage all produce raab in the early spring. This week we are welcoming to the CSA share one of my favorite raab-like early-spring treats: Purple Sprouting Broccoli!
What is Purple Sprouting Broccoli (PSB)? It is one of our overwintered vegetables, meaning it was planted last summer and survives in the field during the coolest part of the winter. Unlike more sensitive plants, purple sprouting broccoli is extremely cold-hardy, able to withstand temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The colder weather actually benefits this plant rather than harming it; a colder winter tends to make for a sweeter, more delicious purple sprouting broccoli in the spring!
PSB does require a bit of love and attention. It needs to be irrigated properly – watered regularly, but not too much in the winter, as this can lead to problems like rot. It also needs to be pruned, or “crowned,” when it first starts producing, to encourage the production of delicious tender offshoots. Unlike the broccoli you may be used to, which produces one large crown, PSB produces many flower-like stems that can grow to be 6-8 inches long, and much like the brassica raabs, the stems can be tender and quite sweet!
I love the taste of this vegetable, and it’s just so beautiful to look at! Several dreamy mornings have I spent in the fields making bouquets of PSB like I’m making a bouquet of flowers. I love to eat PSB raw dipped in one of my favorite dips, or sautéed in a little olive oil and tossed into a stir-fry or a favorite pasta dish (mac and cheese, anyone?). What will you do with your purple sprouting broccoli? Hope you will try one of the recipes below, or let us know what you discover when you try it out for yourself!
Remember, April showers bring May flowers! 🙂