The Best Methods For Cooking Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Perusing vegetables in the produce section, striking purple florets on slender green stalks catch your eye. Easily mistaken for lavender or kale, purple sprouting broccoli is a beautiful and unique sweet variant of broccoli; it is a must-have addition to any culinary lineup thanks to its vivid color and distinctive taste. So drop a bunch (or two) into your shopping cart, and prepare for a gastronomically satisfying experience.

This eye-catching vegetable, boasting slender stalks like gai lan, is often called asparagus broccoli. Purple sprouting broccoli's looks are not deceiving: It's as delicious as it is visually appealing. When cooked properly, its stems and florets will delight your tastebuds, and its leaves can be enjoyed like kale. 

Using the best methods when cooking purple sprouting broccoli is key to unlocking its depth of flavor and full potential; two prime cooking methods can enhance this broccoli variant's flavors — sautéeing and roasting.

Sauté purple sprouting broccoli to bring out its natural sweetness

Sautéing helps retain the purple sprouting broccoli's crisp texture while enhancing its natural flavors. Start by washing the vegetable, then cut off any tough stem ends. You can chop the purple sprouting broccoli into segments or leave them whole. Heat a pan or skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle with olive oil (or neutral oil). 

Aromatics, like minced garlic or shallots, should be added. Once the garlic is golden and aromatic, in about a minute, add the purple sprouting broccoli and toss and stir until tender, which takes about two minutes. 

For added flavor and a pop of color, add red chili flakes or gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes), then season with salt and pepper to taste. Note the sautéing process will cause the purple florets to fade and darken into a brownish-green shade. While its vibrancy is lost, its developed sweetness and deliciousness rendered from the sautéing process won't be disappointing.

Roast purple sprouting broccoli for a caramelized taste

Roasting is an excellent cooking method to enhance the natural sweetness of vegetables like purple sprouting broccoli. Again, wash the vegetable, cut off the tough stem ends, and chop the broccoli into segments. Preheat the oven to about 425 degrees Fahrenheit and toss the trimmed florets and stems with olive oil, salt, pepper, minced aromatics, red chili flakes, cornstarch, plus some lemon zest, if desired.

Arrange the purple sprouting broccoli on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast until tender and slightly charred, about 10 minutes. The roasting process will intensify the purple sprouting broccoli's flavors and produce an appealing caramelized taste. 

While it may not be as visually striking as when raw, roasting or sautéing purple sprouting broccoli will make it a delicious and fun addition to your meals, so the next time you're ready to try something new, pick up that magnificent bunch of purple to explore its culinary possibilities.