Wanstead dinners, II: Love is purple

Suki Orange, Wansteadium’s food blogger, writes:
Last month we started the first of a regular recipe for Wanstead, using seasonal produce which can be bought on Wanstead High Street, all thanks to nutritionist Karen Poole. People really seemed to enjoy it, and so I’m pleased to be able to bring you her idea for February evenings.

Love is Purple
Despite the cold snap, with the lighter evenings, we can almost kid ourselves winter is slowly coming to an end. Yet this time of year is particularly lean for fresh seasonal vegetables – but fortunately, one of the best is available – purple sprouting broccoli. This recipe is based on a Southern Italian one – Oricchiette alla cime di rapa e peperoncino. Translated – Ear-shaped pasta with turnip tops and chilli. If you can’t get hold of Oricchiette, any smallish pasta will work, such as Conchiglie or Farfalle.

To increase the healthy aspect of the dish I’ve used wholewheat pasta – now becoming more popular; the slightly nutty taste goes particularly well with the strong flavours in this recipe.

By all means increase or decrease the quantities of chilli, anchovy and garlic to taste. And vegetarians can also omit the non-authentic chorizo. But I think the taste is a great match with the broccoli and makes this a more substantial main course.

Appropriately, with this being the month of St Valentine, broccoli is particularly good for the heart. Purple Sprouting or tenderstem broccoli is in season and available at Harvey’s Greengrocers; though, should the snow prove a problem for this loving vegetable, regular broccoli will work just as well. Best to eat it as you buy it, but it will keep in a cool place for a few days.

Check out the choice of pastas in The Larder on Wanstead High Street and note this dish works best with the smaller shapes.

Broccoli and Chorizo Pasta
Serves 3-4

400g wholewheat pasta
170g purple sprouting broccoli
1 tbsp pine nuts (toasted)
1 tbsp olive oil
60g chorizo finely sliced
2 anchovy fillets
2 garlic cloves
1 large red chilli (de-seeded and finely diced)
2 x tbsp parsley (finely chopped)
Black pepper & salt


• Place the pasta in boiling water and cook for 8 minutes, or until it is just cooked through.
• Trim and blanch the broccoli in boiling water for 4 minutes then remove from the heat and drain, reserving a little of the cooking water.
• Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan for 2 minutes.
• Gently sauté the chorizo, garlic, anchovy and chilli in the olive oil (keep a little chilli back to dress the dish).
• Add the cooked pasta and broccoli to the frying pan and mix well. Add a little of the reserved pasta water to keep it moist.
• Season with black pepper and a little sea salt and top with the pine nuts, parsley, remaining chilli and a drizzle of olive oil to serve.

Healthy Aspect

Broccoli really is a superfood packed with heart loving vitamins and minerals:

Indole 3 carbinol is released when you bite into it, protecting the integrity of red blood cells and aiding the production of glutathione the body’s most prolific antioxidant.

Selenium reduces the risk of high blood pressure and can limit cell damage from ageing.

Manganese enhances smooth muscle relaxation, protects the blood vessels and helps keep the cardio-vascular system healthy.

Calcium regulates the heartbeat and maintains the blood ph balance.

Beta carotene helps to reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol while supporting the immune system.

Vitamin C aids blood cell formation and reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.

Alternative ideas

You can substitute clams for the chorizo and, if you do, I suggest you add in three medium peeled and diced tomatoes. Add lemon zest to serve.

Broccoli works really well with strong flavours, so sauté it with chilli, garlic and oyster/black bean sauce to accompany a Chinese meal or quickly blanch then chargrill it to add to a salad with beetroot, orange segments, crushed walnuts, topped with a strong cheese like feta or Roquefort with lemon and olive oil as a dressing.

Nutritionist Karen Poole BA Dip Nutrition CNM MBANT can be contacted at k.e.poole@hotmail.com