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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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