Purple sprouting broccoli – don’t you just love the stuff? Well, you’d better, because a tidal wave of the stuff is cascading over the country. Farmer’s markets, supermarkets, menus of high and low estate, purple sprouting is stacked in stooks and heaps and ricks.  It’s the first of the proper spring beg (I’m ignoring polytunnel-grown asparagus), a harbinger of the bounty of summer to come (I hope). I’ve never grown it before, and I’ve found it easy-going and tolerant, and those perky spears with their light topping of dusty mauve flowers particularly cheering. 

In this recipe, if you can call it that, I’ve teamed up the broccoli  with hard-boiled duck eggs (only second to gull’s eggs in the hard-boiled department, in my view) and slivers of salted sardine (of which more in another blog). Anchovy fillets will do just as well. It makes for a jolly and quite substantial spring salad. 

For 4

400g purple sprouting broccoli

4 duck eggs

4 anchovy fillets or salted sardine fillets

Extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon

Nam pla or Colatura di alici anchovy sauce

Salt & pepper

Trim the stalks of the purple sprouting and cook in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Drain and put on kitchen towel to drain some more. Put the duck eggs into cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 9-10 minutes. Drain and cool in running cold water. Peel and cut into halves and each half into 3, giving 6 duck eggs crescents in all. Cut the anchovy or sardine fillets into small chunks. 

Lay the purple sprouting out on 4 plates. Dot each plate with a few chunks of the sardine/anchovy fillets. Arrange the egg crescents prettily on top. A splash or two of Nam Pla or anchovy sauce, and squeeze of lemon, and dash of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, a grid of pepper, and hey ho.

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