My default approach to cooking brassicas (aka the cabbage family) is simply to blanch and then dress them with anchovies and melted butter. Flower sprouts (a hybrid of kale and Brussels sprouts, also known as kalettes) are no exception. In this instance, though, I also add lemon zest to lighten things a little.
Boiling vegetables seems unfashionable at the moment, but I find cooking flower sprouts (or, for that matter, kale, sprout tops or purple sprouting broccoli) that way results in a certain luscious, juicy quality that you miss out on when sautéing or stir-frying. It takes barely 90 seconds, after which the wet, frilly leaves seem particularly happy to put on a heavy jacket of flavoured butter.
The anchovy, lemon and brassica scream out for lamb – whether chop, roast joint or stew – but I love it with eggs or smoked haddock too. Come to think of it, a pile of these on the side of a fish pie would be awesome.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 500 g flower sprouts
- 20 g butter
- 50 g tinned anchovies in olive oil
- 1 Lemon juice and finely grated zest
- 1 large garlic clove, very thinly sliced
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Trim any woody-looking ends off the flower sprouts, then wash them thoroughly. The best way to do this is to fill a large bowl with cold water, put the flower sprouts in it, shake them around, then remove them, discard the dirty water and repeat until the water is clear.
- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Meanwhile, melt the butter in another saucepan. Roughly chop the anchovies and add them to the butter along with a tablespoon or two of their oil, most of the lemon zest and all the garlic. Cook over a low-medium heat for 1–2 minutes until the anchovies start to melt, the garlic softens and the lemon zest mellows, but nothing takes on any colour. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice.
- When the water is at a rapid rolling boil, add the flower sprouts and cook them for 60–90 seconds, no more. Drain them thoroughly, then tip them back into the pan. Pour the flavoured butter and oil over the flower sprouts, followed by 5 or 6 turns of the pepper mill. Toss them until all the leaves are well glossed and sprinkle the last of the lemon zest over the top.