A sprout is for life…not just Christmas

4

Sprout, Pepper and Chicken Stir Fry

I want to extol the virtues of this marvellous vegetable (oft maligned unfairly) over the coming months, starting with this simple stir fry. The health benefits of greens are all publicised and out there on the web for you to check out – and sprouts come right near the top of the pops when it comes to all they have to offer to protect your body and keep it healthy.

IMG_5351

Ingredients for 4

600 gm of noodles – I used a ready to wok variety

12 sprouts, tailed, outer layer removed

1 long red pepper

3 chicken breast fillets

Bunch of spring onions, topped and tailed and finely sliced

For the sauce – 

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons sake (rice wine) – or dry sherry 

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

2 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoon soy sauce

Or you could just use, as i did last night – as I was in a hurry (!) a shop bought 125 gm sachet of oyster and spring onion sauce

Vegetable oil – or you could if you wish use sesame seed oil

Method

Deseed and thinly slice the red pepper into match stick lengths. Finely slice the sprouts. Slice the chicken into thin pieces.

Heat the oil in your wok. When nice and hot add the sprouts and red peppers and stir fry for about two minutes until the peppers start to go soft.

Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and put to one side. If necessary add a little more oil then pan fry the chicken on  high heat until cooked through – it will only take a few minutes. Then tip in the peppers and sprouts and cook together for a further minute or two.

If making your own sauce, now add the spring onions and fry for a minute, then add the other ingredients and mix well as you continue to cook for a minute then add the noodles. (If using a ready made sauce sachet, add the noodles first then add the sauce mix). Either way, I like to mix it all round then lower the heat and pop a lid on, letting it all steam together nicely for a minute or so whilst the noodles cook. 

Serve on warm plates with bowls of sweet chilli sauce, plum sauce or hot sauce on the side – depending on your mood!

IMG_5352

The sprouts go so well in this dish and they will make you want to add them to lots more dishes!

Don’t just forget them until next December!

IMG_5354

A shout out for the sprout!

8

A shout out for the sprout!

These little green nuggets of goodness nestling snugly in the steamer amongst some virginal white cauliflower are my first of the season – about to be served alongside a rump of beef, Yorkshires and heavenly roast spuds. Brassica olearacea, to give them their full name, tis only polite, are one of nature’s finest gifts, though also the butt of many a child’s joke and seemingly hated by anyone under the age of 21. One can only put this down to the way they were nuked into submission by the mothers of the 50s, 60s and 70s. Now they should take their rightful place amongst the vegetable royalty.

It appears that although they have been around several centuries (the Belgians reckon the Romans brought them over to their place) they only became known in English and French gardens at the end of the 18th century. Thomas Jefferson apparently planted them in his veg plot in North America a little while later. I bet that fascinates you no end! The Belgians and French are partial to serving them with butter, cream or a white sauce, such as Mornay. They often braise them and mix them with thin strips of bacon and chestnuts. The tops of the sprout plant, known simply as ‘greens’, are delicious too.

I steamed mine today for 7 minutes until al dente but I also like to blanch them in hot water for 3 or 4 minutes then sauté them with garlic, whisps of smoky bacon and almonds. The key, as with all greens, is not to overcook them – they need a bite to them – a little crunchiness.

Like all things of beauty and wonder they need delicate handling – please show some love to sprouts this autumn!

IMG_4351