There's a new vegetable in town that reminds me of the sci-fi movie Day of the Triffids and its flavour is guaranteed to win over even those with an aversion to brussels sprouts.
"Flower sprouts" are a cross of curly kale and brussels and have a purple and green triffid-like appearance. Both are from the same species (brassica oleracea) and are classed as superfoods because they are good sources of dietary fibre and B vitamins, as well as being high in folate - good for pregnant women - and iron.
Flower sprouts are beautiful to look at and have a sweet nutty flavour. They are best steamed whole until vibrant green or sliced and stir-fried. They're yummy, so if they're not on display at your local greengrocer or supermarket, persuade them to order some.
Another triffid-like vegetable that I've grown for the first time this year is kohlrabi. It looks like a green turnip dotted with thin, long-stemmed leaves. Kohlrabi is a stem that swells to a globe-shape above the ground and is another member of the healthy brassica family. They're ready to eat when they're the size of a tennis ball or even smaller. Sweeter than turnips, kohlrabi may be steamed, roasted or - my favourite - shredded for slaw or stir-frying. The leaves can also be cooked in a similar way to cabbage.
Broccolini - also a brassica - is a cross between the Chinese chard and broccoli. It resembles tiny heads of broccoli on long stems and in the United States it is often called baby broccoli. I love broccolini stir-fried but it is also excellent steamed until crisp-tender, refreshed in icy water, then combined in vegetable salads.
Yams have been in great supply this winter. These knobbly tubers are about the size of a large thumb. The most common yam is pink-orange in colour and has a slightly shiny, ribbed surface. Other sweeter varieties come in yellow, apricot and gold.
New Zealand yams originated from the South American Andes where they are an important vegetable crop known as "oca". They are not the large yams referred to in North American cookbooks that are more like our kumara.
Yams are excellent steamed, boiled, microwaved, roasted, sauteed or baked and hold their colour and texture well.
FLOWER SPROUTS WITH BACON AND PINE NUTS
1 x 160g packet flower sprouts
1 rasher middle bacon, diced
1 tsp butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
2-3 Tbsp pine nuts
Trim the bases of the flower sprouts. Steam until just tender, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in the butter, until crisp. Add the garlic and pine nuts, cooking until the nuts are lightly browned.
Place the flower sprouts in a serving bowl and top with the bacon mixture. Serves 4.
APPLE & KOHL 'SLAW'
Use young kohlrabi if possible as they are more tender.
Slaw: 1 each: kohlrabi, apple, small carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
cup good quality mayonnaise
cup plain yoghurt
Finely grated rind 1 orange
3-4 Tbsp orange juice
Pinch curry powder
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the slaw ingredients in a bowl.
Combine the mayo ingredients and spoon over the slaw.
Toss to coat. Serves 6.
400g broccolini, trimmed
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp grated root ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp each: soy sauce, fish sauce
Finely grated rind and juice 1 lemon
Freshly ground salt and black pepper to taste
Steam the broccolini until crisp-tender. Refresh in cold water and pat dry.
Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the broccolini and toss to heat through. Add the soy sauce, fish sauce, lemon rind and juice and seasonings and heat through. Serves 4-6.
BROWN SUGAR YAMS
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
12 (500g) yams, trimmed
50g butter, melted
cup chopped walnuts, optional
Preheat the oven to 190 deg.
Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Place the yams in a small baking dish. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar and drizzle with the butter. Sprinkle with the walnuts, if using.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until tender, basting occasionally. Serves 4.
- © Fairfax NZ News