Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New Vegetable: Flower Sprouts

When I moved here to Scotland, I wasn't expecting to find vegetables I hadn't met previously in the abundance of California farmer's markets I was leaving behind. Silly, girl. Wandering the aisles of Marks & Spencers (it's kind of like a fancy Trader Joe's, but without the fabulous Roasted Tomatillo Salsa that I miss so much) I spied a package of "Flower Sprouts." The bag was steamed up and I couldn't see what the wee veggies inside looked like. I turned the package over and saw a purpley-green Brassica of some variety that looked like fluffy brussels sprouts. It was marketed as a new vegetable exclusive to M&S, and despite how obnoxious that was, I had to give them a go.

A selection of flower sprouts

Flower sprouts are indeed a new vegetable variety, perfected in 2010 by Tozer Seeds after ten years of patient cross-pollinating and perfecting. The vegetable is a cross between brussels sprouts and curly kale and that's just what they look like. They grow in little rosettes up a stalk, like brussels sprouts, but the sprouts are more open, loose and curly, like kale.

To prepare them, I went with one of my favorite recipes for all leafy greens: Potstickers with Garlicky Greens. The flower sprouts were okay in this preparation, but not spectacular. This recipe works wonderfully with kale and chard, but there was just too high a stem:leaf ratio with the flower sprouts. I think the best preparation for them would be to treat them more as brussels sprouts than kale. It's the end of their season now but if I see them again, I will slice them in half and saute them in garlic butter with a dash of crushed red pepper. I think that will set them off perfectly!

Have any of you come across flower sprouts before? How would you recommend preparing them?

Reference: Background on flower sprouts was gathered from this BBC article.

p.s. Spellcheck wants to change 'Brassica' to 'Brassier' - hilarious.

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