Bye Bye Brussels – But Can I Have Your Sprout Tops First?
My Brussel sprouts have been notoriously hit and miss in the past. I seem to get a good crop every other year, such is the unofficial rule of my allotment, but this year was a good one (by which I mean I managed to grow some). Sweet little sprouts graced my kitchen all through January, February and into March.
(I forgot my camera when I went to the plot, so I’m afraid the picture is of someone else’s sprouts. They’re much better than mine. And I notice they use a stick to hold them up, which is cool).
A Double Feed
As my mum always told me, Brussels are very good for me, and a real winter staple. But they come with a bonus too: they’ll feed me twice.
The ‘tops’ of my sprout plants have also grown well this winter, and as I bid a fond farewell to the little greens, it seemed fitting to whip off the tops for dinner. However, I have a problem – I haven’t the foggiest what to do with them.
They remind me of spring green leaves, but I’ve never eaten the tops. I once saw them on sale at my local organic farm, the fantastic Sarah Green Organics, but I’ve never come across them anywhere else.
Cooking Sprout Tops
Sarah runs 30 acres of Soil Association registered farmland on the marshes of the Dengie Peninsula in Essex, and was kind enough to offer me some advice on how to deal with my harvest.
“Sprout tops are really under rated!” she told me. “They are so sweet they barely need cooking and taste nothing like sprouts! It’s best to cook them like spring green. They’re delicious just steamed or boiled for a couple of minutes, and don’t need as much cooking as cabbage.”
“The sprout tops really compliment any fish or meat as a side dish, but are equally good stir-fryed or shredded and added to a curry in the last 10 minutes of cooking,” Sarah added.
Another mouthwatering offering came from my Twitter friend Diane, who suggests sticking a few shreds of smokey ham or bacon in with the sprout tops, and add garlic and a splash of cream for a delicious sounding soup.
I also like the idea of stir fried ginger sprout tops, but the winner on artistic merit has to be sprout tops and gorgonzola frittata, from the Good Food Channel.
Me? Well, I steamed mine, and rolled them into some skins-left-on mashed potato for a proper injection of crunchy roughage.
As I tucked into my mashed potato, I gave a little nod to the sprout top leaves. Thanks for my brightening my winter, and thanks being the only vegetable that’s fed me twice.
See you next year. Or more likely the year after.