Yesterday, Easter Sunday, we were 24 for lunch, not including two babies and a toddler. We ate roast lamb (and three legs were not quite enough!), little potatoes smothered in mint, parsnips, carrots - and purple sprouting broccoli from the garden. This has been in the ground almost a year, awaiting its moment, but needing no attention at all during that time. Later this week, I'll have to sow seed for next year's crop, which I'll grow where the sweet peas were last year - plants from the cabbbage family like plenty of nitrogen, which plants from the pea family take from the air and fix in the soil.
I went into the garden with Cecily, aged 19 months, and picked a large colander full of the beautiful flower heads, which I then steamed for a few minutes until it was tender, drained it and served it like that (there's not much time for fancy cooking when you're putting food for 24 on the table!). Kate, my sister-in-law, an artist who makes everything look lovely, said that if you serve in on a white plate and squeeze lemon juice over it, the result is the most wonderful bright pink juice.
Here's another idea, one that works with ordinary broccoli too: "melt" some anchovy fillets in a little oil in a small frying pan. When they have softened, add some thin slivers of garlic and a few dried chilli flakes; keep stirring the mix until the garlic is just starting to colour, then throw it over the drained broccoli. There's something about anchovy that brings out the best in the flavour of broccoli. And, actually, you could finish this off with a squeeze of lemon juice. Perhaps we'll have that for lunch....
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