There’s renewed focus in the G&G kitchen this week. I’ve given myself the task of picking one seasonal fruit or vegetable each week and dedicating my whole week to making that plant the hero of my meals. (Basically, I’m starting a one woman veg cult.) And my subject of adoration this week is the kalette (AKA flower sprout). I’ve been busy on my Instagram and Twitter feeds posting recipes, growing tips and gratuitously lustful portraits of these little beauties.
And very photogenic they are too. Crossed between a sprout and a kale, the plant, which grows like a sprout, is a purple-green sentinel in the veg patch – a couple of feet of fat, woody trunk with leaves on the top and the mini flowers lining the stem. These are the edible miniature kale plants – very cute and very pleasing – they would adorn the kitchen table of any dolls house in need of cabbages perfectly.
Growing them is far easier than sprouts but perhaps not quite as straightforward as kale. They won’t, for example, ‘blow’ if the stem rocks in the wind as sprouts do (they don’t heart up like sprouts so there’s nothing to blow). But, unlike kale, the white fly seems to enjoy cuddling up in their little leaves and require evicting with a firm thwack of the truck.
You do need a bit of space to grow them though. I planted mine from plug plants (from Organic Plants) in June/July, a couple of feet apart, netted them against wildlife, and they grew steadily until they were ready to pick in January. It’s a lot of space to give up for 7 months, but they really are crackers. They look so beautiful it’s almost otherworldly and I find it especially satisfying to grow the sort of crops you don’t see in the shops. Smug-making and pretty – these beauties are made for instagram!
They taste delicious too – none of the sulphurous sourness of sprouts. They are sweet and tender and mercifully free from the am-I-a-sheep-or-a-human feeling you get from chewing tough, old kale. (If you haven’t grown any you can, I’m told, find them in M&S and Waitrose.)
Aside from this salad recipe, they lend themselves to some other quick dishes because they are so quick to cook and can be eaten raw. Don’t be tempted to cook them for long or they will go dull and mushy. And don’t tuck them away amongst other veg, they’re too gorgeous for that. Give them centre stage and let them shine, like starlettes on the red carpet:
- Fry with pancetta and hazelnuts (you can find this recipe on my instagram feed)
- Stir fry with ginger, sesame oil and sesame seeds
- Eat them raw and dipped in a 50:50 mix of tahini and yogurt with a dash of lemon
Red cabbage is in the spotlight next week so watch this space…