Penne with purple sprouting broccoli, pine nuts, chilli and lemon

This recipe is very useful right from early spring through to mid-Autumn when purple sprouting broccoli is in season and tender. By blanching the stems lightly, you can still keep that vibrant, beautiful green and purple colour that makes the dish come alive. You could use almost any Brassica in this recipe, like a sweetheart hispi cabbage, or a savoy cabbage, it is so versatile.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 as a starter

What You’ll need:

400g purple sprouting broccoli
400g Penne pasta
100g pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsps olive oil for pan frying
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
Sea salt and pepper
1 unwaxed lemon, the zest removed and the juice squeezed

What to do:

1. Wash and trim the purple sprouting broccoli, discarding any tough parts to the stalks and cutting them into 2 cm pieces. Set aside.

2. Heat a large saucepan of water, and when the water is boiling, pour in the penne pasta. Boil the pasta for approximately 12 minutes, until it is soft but still has a bite to it. When ready, drain the pasta.

3. While the pasta is cooking, heat a smaller saucepan of water on the stove, and when the water is boiling, blanch the purple sprouting broccoli for no more than 3 minutes. Drain and leave to cool on a preparation tray.

4. Toast the pine nuts in a dry non-stick frying pan. Be very careful not to burn them. The secret is to keep shaking the pan so they do not stick to the bottom and burn.

5. Take a heavy saucepan and heat the oil. Add the finely chopped shallot, garlic and red chilli, along with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly grated black pepper. Soften the vegetables quite gently, adding a small amount of water to help create steam in the pan.

6. When the vegetables in the pan are soft, add the cooked pasta, the lemon zest, a little of the lemon juice and the toasted pine nuts. Mix well and fry for 3 minutes. Add the blanched purple sprouting broccoli, mix well, and then turn off the heat.

7. Serve on a warm platter, with extra lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.