Here's everything you need to know about the newest member of the broccoli clan …
Is it cauliflower? Or is it broccoli?
White sprouting broccoli certainly looks like it's a mini cauliflower on a stick. But it is definitely broccoli. Broccoli can have purple, green or white flower heads and the sprouting variety is no different.
Don't knock it until you've tried it
White sprouting broccoli is said to be sweeter than the purple variety (and less cabbage-like). If you don't like regular broccoli then this could be the start of something special. Broccoli lovers will be happy to hear you can eat the heads, stalks and even the leaves – waste not want not!
Why haven't we heard of it?
It’s not easy to get in the shops due to its short harvest, so if you spot it at a trendy farmer's market or in posh greengrocer, grab it with both hands. That said, you can avoid any kind of middle-class elbow bashing by simply buying it online.
For the green fingered and garden-blessed among us, it's (apparently) easy to grow. White sprouting is hardy and prolific … plus the more you pick, the more you get! We thought this was pretty magical until we realised that's what you call pruning (oops).
You might know it as …
The poor man's asparagus (although leeks, samphire and hop shoots have all been called this). But it's trying to cast off that lowly image and step into the limelight. It also goes by more glam names such as 'white eye' and 'white star', which sounds like someone's already done a bit of a PR job on it.
How do you cook it?
Gently. White sprouting broccoli is a delicate soul and needs to be treated like asparagus. It takes even less time to cook than its mauve cousin: steam for three minutes until tender, or blanch then braise in a pan with crispy bacon.
The thinner the stalk the less time it takes to cook so add skinny stems to the pan fashionably late. It also freezes well so there's no need to eat it all at once.
And when should we expect it?
Spring. So right now!
Dress it up with …
Rich sauces such as Hollandaise (here’s how to make that) or this orange zest and parsley sauce. The traditional pairing of melted butter, lemon juice and parmesan shavings is hard to beat, but we love white sprouting broccoli best as a pizza topping with plump olives and serrano ham.
You can also coat it in a light tempura batter and deep-fry, if you're feeling adventurous.