A Flower by Any Other Name

My current produce obsession is with sprout flowers, a.k.a. kalettes or kale sprouts. This hybrid of Brussels sprouts and kale was introduced to England in 2010; each adorable flower is the size of a sprout with ruffly leaves surrounding a tightly closed bud.


They grow on stalks like Brussels sprouts but the ruffles give them a completely different appearance, kind of like an exotic tulip. They have a mild, nutty taste that is similar but less strong than kale or sprouts.


My favorite way to cook them is roasting in a hot oven so they get as crisp as a potato chip with slightly burned edges. They are terrific to eat just like this but also make a great addition to salads, entrees or even as a topper for a creamy soup.

Simply toss the kalettes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. If some are very large, halve them from stem to top. Roast in a 400F/220C oven for about 15-20 minutes until they are browned all over and the edges are crunchy.

For a hearty winter salad, toss the kalettes with the same portion of peeled, cubed sweet potatoes, olive oil to coat, a pinch of chopped rosemary and salt and pepper. Roast at 400F/220C for 15-20 minutes. The last 7 minutes add halved cherry tomatoes to the baking pan and turn the sweet potatoes and sprout flowers. Remove from the oven when the tomatoes are jammy, the sweet potatoes are tender and golden and the kalettes are crisp and browned. Allow to cool slightly then toss with a garlicky balsamic dressing, a handful of torn fresh basil leaves and some toasted hazelnuts.


For brunch or light supper, render the fat from some chopped cooking chorizo in a medium saute pan over medium low heat. Add layers of finely sliced potatoes and season well with salt and pepper. Allow the potatoes to cook without moving until they get crusty and golden then turn them over and repeat on the other side. Meanwhile, roast the sprout flowers as per the main recipe above. Once the potatoes are nicely browned and tender, make a couple indentations in the layers and crack in eggs (1 per person). Cook to desired doneness then put ample portions of potatoes on each plate along with the crispy kalettes and top it all with an egg.

For a sprout flower salad with an Italian accent, blanch cauliflower florets, trimmed green beans and slices of carrot until tender. Cool to room temperature. Make a creamy dressing with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, top-quality mayonnaise and chopped fresh basil. Toss the cooked vegetables with roasted kale flowers, thinly sliced radicchio and enough dressing to just coat all the ingredients.

Sprout flowers aren’t readily available at typical supermarkets. I get mine from a vendor at the local farmers market here in my neighborhood; ask your green grocer or farmers market if they have them. Their season ends in April so try and get your hands on some before it’s too late.



Bowled Over

Meal bowls are an easy way to get dinner on the table in a jiffy. In my recent article on Zester Daily  I explore the topic and give some recipes using seasonal ingredients and tips on how to creatively repurpose leftovers into yummy bowls for every meal of the day.


This savory yogurt bowl doubles as a fantastic dip with pita chips or crudités.

The Workday Dinner Challenge

The Workday Dinner Challenge

My friend Leslie sent me this message recently:

Hi Brooke….I work long days and still want to feed my family a nourishing meal. What can I do in an hour or so?


HERE IS MY SOLUTION:  An easy fish dish with a snappy lemon sauce. Round out the meal with roasted potatoes which go in the oven 5 minutes before the fish.


This recipe uses some of the mild white fish, like true cod and petrel sole, and juicy asparagus that is in season right now. Both the fish and asparagus get roasted in the oven on the same pan at the same time making it quick to fix and clean up a snap.

For the fish:
2 T. mayonnaise
1 T. lemon juice
1 lb halibut or cod filet, or other mild white-fleshed fish
1 cup breadcrumbs
olive oil
1 bunch asparagus, about ½ pound, washed and bottom 1/4″ broken off
salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ t. dijon mustard
1 T. fresh lemon juice
3 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F. Mix the mayonnaise and the lemon juice in a small bowl. Rinse the fish and dry it off with paper towels. Spread out the breadcrumbs on a sheet of waxed paper. Paint both sides of the fish with the mayonnaise mixture and then coat both sides completely with the crumbs. Season fish with salt and pepper. Lightly oil a large sheet tray with some olive oil. Place the fish on one end of the sheet tray. Toss the asparagus with one tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper and spread out in one layer at the other end of the tray. Roast in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until the fish is golden brown and flaky and the asparagus is tender when poked with a sharp knife.


While the fish is cooking make the sauce. Mix the garlic, mustard and lemon juice in a small bowl. Gradually dribble in the olive oil to form an emulsion. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

When the fish and asparagus are done, place 4 or 5 spears of asparagus on each plate. Top the asparagus with a portion of fish and drizzle a bit of the sauce overall. Serve immediately.

Serves 4


Use fingerling, Yukon Gold or purple potatoes (like Leslie did here)

1 dozen fingerlings or 3 medium potatoes, cut in 1 1/2 inch chunks

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary needles

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. Toss potatoes in a medium bowl with all other ingredients and turn onto a medium sheet tray. Put in oven about 5 minutes before the fish and asparagus, total roasting time for potatoes will be around 20-25 minutes.


Roasted purple potatoes

Roasted purple potatoes

Photos courtesy of Leslie Laskin-Reese