New veges on the shelves

By Jan Bilton

There's a new vegetable in town that reminds me of sci-fi movie The Day of the Triffids and its flavour is guaranteed to win over even those with an aversion to Brussels sprouts.

Flower sprouts are a cross between curly kale and Brussels and have a purple and green triffid-like appearance. Both are from the same species (Brassica oleracea) and are classed as superfoods because they are good sources of dietary fibre and B vitamins, as well as being high in folate - good for pregnant women - and iron.

Flower sprouts are beautiful to look at and have a sweet nutty flavour.

They are best steamed whole until vibrant green or sliced and stir-fried.

They're yummy, so if they're not on display at your local greengrocer or supermarket, persuade them to order some for you.

Another triffid-like vegetable that I've grown for the first time this year is Kohlrabi.

It looks like a green turnip dotted with thin, long-stemmed leaves.

Kohlrabi is a stem that swells to a globe-shape above the ground and is another member of the healthy brassica family.

They're ready to eat when they're the size of a tennis ball, or even smaller.

Sweeter than turnips, kohlrabi may be steamed, roasted or - my favourite - shredded for slaw or stir-frying. The leaves can also be cooked in a similar way to cabbage.

Broccolini - also a brassica - is a cross between the Chinese chard and broccoli.

It resembles tiny heads of broccoli on long stems and in the United States it is often called baby broccoli.

I love broccolini stir-fried, but it is also excellent steamed until crisp-tender, refreshed in icy water, then combined in vegetable salads.

Yams have been in great supply this winter.

These knobbly tubers are about the size of a large thumb.

The most common yam is pink-orange in colour and has a slightly shiny, ribbed surface. Other sweeter varieties come in yellow, apricot and gold.

New Zealand yams originated from the South American Andes, where they are an important vegetable crop known as oca.

They are not the large yams referred to in North American cookbooks that are more like our kumara.

Yams are excellent steamed, boiled, microwaved, roasted, sauteed or baked and hold their colour and texture well.



1 x 160g packet flower sprouts

1 rasher middle bacon, diced

1 tsp butter

1 clove garlic, crushed

2-3 tbsp pine nuts

Trim the bases of the flower sprouts. Steam until just tender, about three minutes. Cook bacon in the butter, until crisp. Add garlic and pine nuts, cooking until nuts are lightly browned. Place flower sprouts in a serving bowl and top with the bacon mixture. Serves 4.


Use young kohlrabi if possible as they are more tender.

Slaw: 1 each: kohlrabi, apple, small carrot, peeled and coarsely grated

2 spring onions, finely sliced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Orange Mayo: 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise

1/4 cup plain yoghurt

Finely grated rind of 1 orange

3-4 tbsp orange juice

Pinch curry powder

Freshly ground black pepper

Place the slaw ingredients in a bowl. Combine the mayo ingredients and spoon over the slaw. Toss to coat. Serves 6.


400g broccolini, trimmed

2 tbsp canola oil

2 tsp grated root ginger

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp each: soy sauce, fish sauce

Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

Freshly ground salt and black pepper

Steam broccolini until crisp-tender. Refresh in cold water and pat dry. Heat oil in a frying pan. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the broccolini and toss to heat through. Add soy sauce, fish sauce, lemon rind and juice, and seasonings and heat through. Serves 4-6.


1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

12 (500g) yams, trimmed

50g butter, melted

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 190C. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Place yams in a small baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and drizzle with butter. Sprinkle with walnuts, if using. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until tender, basting occasionally.

Serves 4.


- Hamilton News

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