I made a long overdue trip to the farmer’s market at the weekend. It was Islington Farmer’s Market this time and quite by accident. I was meeting friends for a Sunday roast lunch and, despite rigorous planning, turned up an hour before the pub opened. So, we wandered off in the snow, after they had really sweetly let us in and allowed us to have a coffee in the warmth even though they were closed.
I love the snow. Well, that’s not quite true, I like the idea of snow. Until, after about half an hour out in it, I remember that it’s cold and wet and uncomfortable. Then I want to get out of it. Then there’s the snowball fights. Not such a problem as an adult, the last time that I was in one was about 5 years ago when I ran screaming into the house with one deposited in my hood. So, I love the snow, if there’s no threat of a snowball fight, and I don’t have to touch it but can just walk about in it and admire how pretty it looks.
So that we did, and we happened upon Islington Farmer’s Market. The last time that I was there was some years ago, when it was in Islington Green. It has moved further north now, nearer Highbury at William Tyndale School (behind the Town Hall), and has alot more space. There was quite a few nice stalls there, alot of the regulars on the London Farmer’s Market scene – Alham Wood Farm with their buffalo cheeses and meats, Chegworth juices and others I haven’t seen so often like Two Fishwive’s. In my rush, there was one stall that particularly impressed me: Kingcup Farm, they had a fantastic variety of leaves, herbs and heritage products that I have been looking for like candy beetroot and parsely roots. There was also a producer selling a fantastic range of potted herbs and salads, I’ll be going back to sample some of them and the other wares that I had no time to investigate.
Kingcup farm produce
One of the things I bought from Kingcup Farm was purple sprouting broccoli. This is a wonderful seasonal vegetable, more tender and flavoursome than the green broccoli (calabrese) that we are more familiar with. The ones on offer from Kingcup were very young and tender with slender shoots and small heads of purple broccoli.
I wondered what I would do with it, often like to serve it in a salad with a cheese like feta or pecorino shavings, simple dressed and still crisp having been briefly fried or blanched. This time I wanted to do something different so had a browse around to see what it’s paired with frequently. My searches quickly threw up the following: capers, anchovies, garlic, chilli and pasta with herbs like rosemary and parsley.
I decided to go down the pasta route, most recipes went with orechiette, rigatoni or penne. I fancied trying a taglliatelle recipe as the shoots were so tender it would be a nice complement. Having had an enormous roast yesterday, I wanted something light, so I steered clear of cream and kept it simple. It was tasty and light, I think perfect for lunch or a light summer supper. The anchovies imparted a wonderful savoury flavour and depth and the chillies some warmth, all topped with the lovely purple sprouting broccoli.
This served two.
300g purple sprouting broccoli, washed, trimmed of the leaves and cut into one inch segments
6-8 anchovies, finely chopped
1 fat clove garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
4 tbsp pecorino romano, grated
some pecorino shavings to serve
Cook the tagliatelle according to packet instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, heat about 2-3 tbsp olive oil and saute the garlic, chilli and anchovies for a few minutes. Add the broccoli and cook for a couple of minutes until it starts to become tender. The pasta should be almost cooked by now. Add a few tablespoons of water from the pasta and the grated pecorino, stir and a fine sauce will form, just enough to coat the tagliatelle. Season to taste.
Drain the pasta and add to the broccoli sauce. Toss and serve in warmed bowls with the pecorino shavings.