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Pasta with Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Written by Andrew Woodhouse on

I grew up in Suffolk, and as the daughter of a (retired) restaurateur, was surrounded by a family where the main topic of conversation was FOOD (and eating)!

As a Chef, Dad always tried to use locally sourced produce wherever possible and changed his menu regularly depending on what was in in season. With this in mind, I recently visited my local farmers market in Beccles, to see what delicious seasonal produce was on offer.

Amongst rainbow coloured displays of hearty vegetables including beetroot (think - creamy borscht), parsnips (perfect for roasting), romanesco cauliflowers (amazing fractal forms) carrots and turnips, one of my favourite winter greens shone out from the crowd - that being the purple sprouting broccoli.

I LOVE this humble vegetable and find it much tastier than its arch-rival "Calabrese" - which is what we usually refer to as broccoli in Britain. Purple sprouting broccoli is perfect in stir-frys, punchy with pasta or is simply sublime as an accompaniment to a seasonal slow-cooked game casserole, featuring locally reared pheasant.

This quick and easy supper recipe uses this versatile green (purple!) combined with organic duck’s eggs and locally grown garlic – all of which are available at my local Suffolk farmer’s market!

Pasta with Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Garlic and Duck’s Eggs.

Ingredients:

  • Packet of good quality dried pasta (I’m a fan of De Cecco Penne Rigate)
  • 1kg purple sprouting broccoli
  • Generous glug of Hillfarm Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oil (made in Suffolk)
  • 2 cloves of locally grown garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 3 organic duck's eggs
  • 1 or 2 small fresh red chillies (depending on your heat tolerance)
  • Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
  • Generous slab of Grana Padano grated
  • Fresh basil leaves

Method:

  • Peel and smash the garlic cloves. Slice chillies lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and chop finely. (If you prefer your pasta “fiery”, leave the seeds in).
  • Cut off the outer leaves and woody stalks from the sprouting broccoli. Chop into finger-length sections. Rinse with cold water and drain in a colander.
  • Bring a small pan of water to the boil and add the duck’s eggs. (Make sure the eggs are at room temperature before adding to the pan. This prevent the shells from cracking). Boil the eggs for approximately 8-9 minutes.  You want to aim for a cooked egg which has firm whites but “jelly-like” yolks – not runny but not hard boiled and crumbly.  Transfer to a bowl of cool water, then peel once cooled.
  • Add a pinch of salt to a large saucepan of water and bring to the boil. Add the pasta and cook until “al dente”;  as per the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Whilst the pasta is cooking, heat a large, heavy bottomed pan coated with a generous glug of Hillfarm Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oil. Add the garlic and chillies and cook on a medium heat for approximately 2 minutes - taking care not to burn the garlic.
  • Add the purple sprouting broccoli and cook for 2-3 minutes, coating with the garlic and chilli-infused oil.  Add a small ladle of the pasta cooking liquid to the pan then turn up the heat to high and cook broccoli until just tender.
  • Thoroughly drain penne pasta and transfer back to saucepan. Immediately add a generous glug of rapeseed oil, salt and pepper, half of the grated Grana Padano then toss in the broccoli, garlic and chilli mixture. Mix well and transfer onto a warmed serving platter.
  • Break open the cooked duck’s eggs and scatter over the top of the pasta, dress with the remaining extra Grana Padano, freshly ground pepper and whole, fresh basil leaves!
  • Serve and EAT!
Andrew Woodhouse

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