Success! It grew! The god damn Purple Sprouting Broccoli has produced a harvest. Better, in fact: a glut! Heaven and the Christmastime be praised.

I have, as you can probably tell, struggled with PSB (get with the lingo) for many years. It’s a fickle creature and requires effort, toil and, preferably, a direct line to God. You sow seeds outdoors in May in pots, then plant the seedlings in very very firm soil when they are about 10cm high. So far, so good. Then, you watch as they are ravaged by cabbage whites/pigeons/errant chickens and battered by winds and weather. Any leaf damage will stunt their growth. Any wind rock will stunt their growth. Pretty much any weather at all will stunt their growth. Should, by some miracle, the plant survive the winter, it will produce spears of purple florets in around March. 9 solid months of hard labour and worry.

This year however I have cracked it. The secret is to say ‘sod it’ to planting from seed and buy organic plug plants instead. I use Delfland Nurseries who provide a terrific online service. They cost a bit more (£1.95 for 5 plants v the same for a whole pack of seeds), but all 5 plants survived and there’s no way I’d need more. I also netted them until January to keep the flying pests off and staked them when I planned them to stop them rocking. I think the wet summer helped too as they need constant moisture in those early months.

And it worked! We have a proper glut. And we’re eating them with every meal at G&G Towers right now. Beautiful with poached eggs, delicious with chorizo and feta. And heavenly with oriental flavours….

‘English Spring’ Spring Rolls with PSB Cashews, Sesame and Soy Salad

We don’t usually hold with ‘fusion’ food at G&G. However, this pun appealed to our whimsical side – all the wonders of an English Spring wrapped up in a spring roll. Served, of course, with PSB. I’ve chargrilled it to give it a smokey crunch and tossed it in a soy dressing which brings a wonderful savouriness. If you don’t fancy the wrap part, you can make one big salad by mixing the wrap filling with the PSB and topping with the pickled cucumber. Similarly, you could just chargrill the chicken and serve that with the PSB salad. We’re all about flexibility at G&G!

Serves 4 for a light lunch.

For the wraps:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Sunflower oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Handful mangetout, green beans or carrots
  • Handful watercress or rocket
  • ½ cucumber
  • A few radishes
  • 100ml cider vinegar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 8 rice paper fresh spring roll wrappers

Set a griddle pan over a high heat to get smoking hot. Meanwhile, bash the chicken breasts with a rolling pin, coat in a little sunflower oil and season heavily with salt and pepper. When the griddle is hot, pop the chicken on and cook until golden and a bit charred. Set aside to cool then slice into thin strips.

Slice the mangetout into matchsticks as set aside.

Measure the sugar and vinegar into a saucepan and set over a low heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and allow to cool for a minute of two. Meanwhile, finely chop the radishes and cucumber then add them to the pickling liquor and set aside until needed.

When you’re ready to assemble everything, pour a little boiling water into a shallow dish. Soak the rice paper wrappers one at a time for 10-15 seconds in the water then transfer to a tea towel and pat dry. Lift the wrapper onto a chopping board trying to avoid the wrapper folding over as it will stick.

Make a neat line in the middle of the wrapper using 2 strips of chicken, some mangetout, a few watercress leaves and a teaspoon of the pickled veg. Roll the whole thing up and slice in half ready to serve. Here’s a little tutorial:

For the PSB:

  • 400g PSB
  • A little sunflower oil
  • Handful cashew nuts
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 75ml soy sauce
  • 75g honey
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • ¼ chilli, finely chopped
  • a few shavings of fresh ginger

Set a griddle pan over a medium heat. Brush the broccoli with a little oil and pop it on the griddle pan for 5 minutes. It should be charred but the stalks should still be crunchy.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Simply mix together the soy, honey, lime juice, chilli and ginger then adjust to taste.

To serve, toss the cashews and sesame seeds with the broccoli then drizzle over the dressing.