Wednesday, 5 March 2008

The Colour Purple

It is still cold up here by the wilds of the North Sea, and despite some early promise of a warm March, it is proving to be anything but. The hats, scarves and mittens are still in full use and central heating is a must on an evening.

The only thing that is giving us any indication that spring may be just around the corner in this bleakest of natural food months is one of my favourite vegetables - purple spouting broccoli. No matter how harsh the weather, this delicious sweet relation of the cauliflower rears its wonderful head in March and begs you to do nothing more than steam it, toss it in a little butter and devour it.

When the first purple sprouting broccoli is available, it is ritual for me to steam a bunch and eat a large pile of it with some form of mustardy anchovy dressing. You can feel yourself getting healthier by the bite, it is that good for you. But the taste is one unique to this special vegetable; sweet and delicate, almost like the first asparagus but arguably better.

I've devised a tart to help celebrate the arrival of the purple sprouting broccoli. You may say it is a quiche, but with the addition of some Northumbrian Cheese Company Redesdale sheep's cheese and a little English mustard, it turns that French mainstay of the 1970s into a thoroughly English thing. If you can't get your hands on some tangy sheep's cheese, experiment and try just about any. A good Cheddar will always be good.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Sheep's Cheese Tart

250g shortcrust pastry, either homemade or shop bought
200g purple sprouting broccoli
6 large free range eggs
2 large free range egg yolks
250ml natural yoghurt
200g sheep's cheese, or similar, grated
1 tbsp English mustard
Salt and pepper

1 - Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, GM4.
2 - On a floured surface, roll out the pastry. Butter an 8 inch quiche or pie dish and line with the rolled out pastry, leaving the excess hanging over the sides. Prick with a fork, line with baking paper and baking beans or rice, and blind bake for 15 minutes on the middle shelf.
3 - Remove the paper and beans, return to the oven and bake for a further five minutes. Remove then trim the excess pastry.
4 - Bring a pan of water to the boil then blanch the broccoli for 2 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Drain thoroughly.
5 - In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, yoghurt, cheese and mustard, reserving a handful of cheese. Season with a little salt and plenty of black pepper.
6 - Put the broccoli into the cooked pastry case then pour over the egg, cheese and yoghurt mixture. Sprinkle over the remainder of the cheese.
7 - Bake on the middle shelf for 30-40 minutes, until the mixture has cooked and risen and the top is golden brown. Serve hot or cold.


Pixie said...

OH MY, does this sound just right for moi! What a great way to use sprouting broccoli.

David, I'm truly honoured that you've added me to your blogroll...I shall happily be doing the same. Huge Thanks!

Celia Hart said...

Another great recipe David - Purple Sprouting is well worth championing, so much better all round than imported asparagus. Growing your own PSB is a labour of hope! sown in summer, protected from caterpillars and pigeons for months it takes up space in the veg patch that could be used for quicker crops - then in the cold months of early spring it bursts forth with those little purple buds on tender green sprouts - it's well worth the wait! The tenderest, tastiest brassica ever!


Peter M said...

I've always liked broccoli and this tart just shows how versatile it is.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Totally with you re the PSB. I love it done simply, too - either with melted butter, or with melted anchovies and garlic. Delish either way. A tart is something I'd never usually bother with, but you might just have changed my mind... Interested to hear of the cheese - I thought I'd come across most, but this is a new one to me!

Marie Rayner said...

I love purple sprouting broccoli, just steamed until crispy tender with a bowl of melted butter nearby to dip the delicious stems into. I do like the looks of your tart though. It looks quite tasty. I saw some horrible looking white sprouting broccoli at the local waitrose the other week. I was almost tempted to buy some to see how the flavour stacked up against my old favourite, but the temptation wasn't quite strong enough!

David Hall said...

Pixie - thanks!

MC - I wish I had the space to grow it! But if I was I would be pretty excited waiting for it.

Peter - mucho versatile!

FOS - Northumberland Cheese Co do some amazing cheeses and have won loads of awards. Check them out.

Marie - white broccoli - WHAT?!?

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

I visited England, last year, and falled in love with it. The food was really good. This look really good.

Anonymous said...

Peas are usually our first crop, but we still have snow on the ground. I love your quiche and I'm curious why your vegetable is called "sprouting" broccoli.
Can you make this recipe with the non-sprouting kind? haha ;)
I'll have to ask the bloke about this :)

Anonymous said...

mmmm, how much do you love the purple sprouting?! Such a saviour in the desert that is seasonal eating at the moment. I ate some just last night with a nice venision fillet but with anchovies and chilli is also one of my favourite ways. The tart (blatantly a quiche!!) looks delicious.

David Hall said...

Helene - Glad you like our country! It has its moments.

Maryann - because it sprouts up through the soil! Hee hee :o)

Helen - thanks, I am now starving!

Anonymous said...

Is it purple cos of the cold then?

Rosie said...

I love purple sprouting broccoli David and what a great way of using this product in your tart - delicious!

Rosie x

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Purple sprouting broccoli??? From the sounds of it everyone LOVES it but I have not heard of it before....I am missing out!! Am I veggie deprived or what..I even Googled it and have still never come across it:D Is it perhaps similar to rapini?

David Hall said...

GBVC - very funny!

Rosie - very haooy that you approve.

BV - you are missing out on some heavenly food then. All I can say is, uproot from Canada and come over here! But I'm sure you will have it somewhere.

Chef Jeena said...

Hi David, it would be great to se you on the forum. There is over 100 users now and growing day by day.

You cook great recipes David I am sure your input would be great on the international forum.


Jeena :-)

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

A slice of this with some baby new potatoes and a lovely dressed salad! Mmmmm, gorgeous! Just what I like to eat, when I am pretending that summer is on it's way!

Abitofafoodie said...

Oh I love purple sprouting broccoli. And I love sheep's cheese. And I love tarts (...that sounds a bit wrong actually...). I want a slice of this right now! Delicious!

Pixie said...

oh and if you can kindly share your jerk seasoning recipe one day, that would be great :)

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