Just before Christmas I was invited to a dinner party. Well, in fact it was more of a thrown-together party. Originally we thought we were the only guests, but by the time we arrived the number to be fed had grown to ten. This had all happened rather quickly and, hours before, the hostess had had to rush out and buy what she could for the evening, all ingredients requiring minimal preparation.
She looked as if she might need a hand so I lurked in the kitchen, offering assistance. My main role was opening tins and packets.
“What are these?”, I asked in amazement, fighting my way through layers of cellophane, and extricating from within what looked like a tiny, perfectly formed and unfurling, pink-tinged savoy cabbage.
This vegetable was new, too, to my hostess, and both of us were relieved and impressed to discover that cooking kalettes is a cinch.
At the eating stage we were all also impressed. This Lilliputian vegetable is sweet and nutty.
For an interview with Dr Jamie Claxton, the breeder of kalettes at Tozer, follow this link.
What, exactly, are kalettes?
Kalettes began life some fifteen years ago, an interbreeding experiment by Tozer Seeds, vegetable breeders in Surrey, and christened originally, Flower Sprout.
The vegetable was renamed because one of its parents – the Brussels Sprout – suffers from a particularly bad press, and is famously and globally loathed by children for its bitter taste. Its other parent however – kale – positively basks in popularity, thanks to enthusiastic exponents such as Gwyneth Paltrow.
When are kalettes in season?
Kalettes are currently in season from October to early April. They’re grown, as you would expect, in regions traditionally growing kale and Brussels sprouts – Lincolnshire and Scotland. Kalettes are not genetically modified.
Are kalettes good for you?
Kalettes contain twice the amount of both Vitamin C and B6 as Brussels sprouts.
Fourteen things to do with kalettes:
- Kalettes can be eaten raw. Because of their frilly-layered, curvy-crevissed leaves they are perfect served with creamy dips
- Or boil in salted water for three or four minutes, drain, and fry briefing in butter – the slightly burnt, nutty butter brings out the nuttiness of the kalettes.
- Or blanch, drain, and then throw into pasta with lots of olive oil, and maybe a little walnut oil to finish. Or do the same with Chinese noodles.
- Or stir fry for a minute or two in sesame oil, drizzling over a little thick, rich soy sauce just before serving. This is Dr Jamie Claxton, the breeder of kalettes, favourite way to eat them. If you’re serving them with something Chinese or Thai a little fresh ginger also goes well. And maybe some garlic, thinly sliced banana shallots and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
- Microwave (800W) for a couple of minutes – first adding butter and seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Steam for three to five minutes.
- Add to stews a few minutes before serving.
- Try roasting in a hot oven, seasoned and drizzled with olive oil
- Reheat leftover roast potatoes in a frying pan with duck or goose fat, throwing in a pack of kalettes.
- Anoint cooked kalettes with tikka masala paste and coconut milk.
- At Christmas serve with chestnuts and bacon, dress with truffle oil, and dress up with edible gold stars.
- Stir fry or roast with garlic and pine nuts… or other types of nuts, to bring out the nuttiness.
- Add blanched and fried kalettes to salads to give a bit of interesting texture.
- Add cooked kalettes to a warm salad of celery, walnuts and cranberries.
- On the blog, What’s For Lunch, Honey? you will find a recipe for kalettes in a middle-eastern Buddha bowl.
This post is dedicated to Lesley Norris.