Good for you
Purple sprouting broccoli is readily available this month. This tender, deeply-coloured cousin of calabrese, or standard green broccoli, can be cooked in much the same way. Steamed gently for about five minutes, the long, thin florets are delicious served simply with melted butter and lemon juice, and they make a fantastic alternative to toast soldiers when dipped into a soft-boiled egg. Or use to fill a quiche with some strong, tasty cheddar.
In many kitchen gardens, kale will still be growing strongly. An often under-rated vegetable – once considered only suitable as winter feed for sheep and cattle – it's now having a bit of a comeback, often appearing on the menu of fancy restaurants.
With good reason, too – kale is extremely good for you, being packed with calcium and high in vitamins A and C. Cooked correctly, kale can be delicious too. It can be boiled, like cabbage, but is so much nicer when given some special treatment – try sautéing in butter with onion, garlic and finely chopped red chilli, then add a little vegetable stock and simmer until the kale is tender.
Kale can be used in any recipe that calls for spinach – it has more body and texture than spinach so makes a robust substitute. Steamed kale can be mixed with ricotta cheese and used to stuff cannelloni or savoury pancakes.
Kale comes in several different varieties: curly green kale is the most common, but cavolo nero – an almost black, Italian variety – is worth seeking out. Then there's Redbor, a frilly red version to add a splash of colour to your plate – and which makes a tasty version of crispy Chinese seaweed when finely shredded and stir-fried in sesame oil with a little salt and sugar.
Leeks and kale are perfect together, especially when combined with strong-flavoured cheese, such as Stilton. Try adding these ingredients to risotto, pasta sauces and pies.