Purple Sprouting Broccoli Stirfry and the curious case of the ‘Blue’ Noodles

I have actually just finished eating this and it was so delish I cannot wait to share.

Something I learned very early on in the food business is that generally blue food is regarded as unappetizing and consequently is usually avoided. The theory goes that as there is no blue food in nature it is perceived as unnatural. Even with cakes, which can easily look unnatural indeed are often supposed to, blue coloured ones are the last to go and Thomas the Tank Engine cakes are rarely finished. However, those foods naturally with a blue/purple hue such as blueberries or purple sprouting broccoli are actually some of the most nutritionally beneficial.

Purple Sprouting broccoli is very much in season at the moment and my better half and I are so in love with it we are happy to munch it as the feature of a main course. Due to the ongoing attempts to declutter the house in spare moments I was in need of a quick meal in time for the start of The Apprentice and so a stir fry seemed the best option. I would say this took no more than 20 minutes from start to finish.

I shall start off by listing the ingredients today, serves 2:

2 layers of medium Egg Noodles, a handful of Purple Sprouting Broccoli spears, ends of the stalks removed, 3 Spring onions, chopped, 2 cm piece of Ginger, finely chopped, 2 cloves of Garlic, crushed, a few dried Chilli Flakes, 1 Carrot, finely sliced, ½ Red Pepper, sliced, 4/5 Mushrooms, sliced, 1 tbsp Sunflower Oil, ½ tbsp Sesame Oil, 25g Peanuts and/or Cashews, roughly chopped, salt and pepper, juice of ½ Lemon, 4 tbsp fresh Coriander, chopped.

Start off by boiling the kettle and pouring about a pint of boiled water over the prepared broccoli spears in a saucepan. Place saucepan on the heat, return to the boil and then simmer for 2/3 minutes. Fish the spears out after this time and remove to a plate. The water will be purple-y blue in colour, try not to be put off by this and add the layers of noodles. return to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes or so.

Meanwhile in a wok, dry fry the nuts over a moderate heat until lightly toasted and remove to a plate.  Measure the oils into the wok and over a moderate heat fry the spring onions, ginger and chilli for a minute or two. Then add the garlic and after another minute the carrot, mushrooms and pepper. Stir fry that around for 2/3 minutes and then add the lemon juice, purple sprouting broccoli and 3 tbsp of the coriander. Stir again. Drain the noodles and divide between 2 bowls, give the vegetables a final stir, season if required and likewise divide between the bowls. Sprinkle with the nuts and the remaining coriander.

So the broccoli water did colour the noodles to some degree. At school or by my Mother, I can’t remember which, I was told to try to use up the water vegetables were cooked in as the liquor was nutrient filled. Interestingly for once, one could see this advice in action. Don’t worry the effect is not too marked, unappetizing is not the word that will spring to mind.

D’ya like my new wok? I’m very pleased with this. After 6 years of trying to make stir fry in a frying pan on my ancient and temperamental induction hob, I have found the answer. I’m sure it has a name, I can’t remember the official title, but the description would be flat-bottomed wok and you don’t need gas.

Finally, beneficial foods: I seem to be surrounded by people with nasty coughs and colds at the moment. Fresh ginger is supposed to be highly beneficial for such afflictions. A tea of fresh ginger, grated and boiled in a cup full of water, strained,  then lemon juice and  honey added to taste should help.

Barely got your hat off Chicken Noodle Soup

I always remember a wise member of my family quoting an expression her mother used to use regarding those occasions where you come bursting through the front door, and for whatever reason, a meal should have been on the table 10 minutes beforehand. She described it as ‘being in such a rush to get started on the cooking that she had barely got her hat off’. I know the feeling, chopping in your coat, frequently in fact and today was such a day.

We had been travelling home from our weekend away and despite having left plenty of time (and thank goodness we had), we were starting to run late. It was a lengthier trip than usual due to downpours, copious roadworks, heaps of traffic, the gods conspiring to send every traffic light we approached red and some extremely dawdle-y type individuals. Child 1 needed to be at cricket practice (yes that’s right, cricket) more or less upon arrival home and guess what – needed some tea before he went.

What do you cook at such a moment – barely got your hat off, practically store cupboard Chicken Noodle Soup.

I had had the foresight to buy the cooked chicken you need, those packets of ready roasted chicken (breast or legs) or even thickly sliced chargrilled chicken are perfect for this, but as it’s Monday you might have left over Roast Chicken knocking about.

So for 2 medium sized children:

to a saucepan add a chicken stock cube, about 800mls to 1 litre of boiling water, 2 tbsp each of mirin and soy sauce (reduced salt is fine), 2 layers of Sharwoods medium egg noodles, broken up a fair bit, a good handful of frozen peas and/or sweetcorn (or whatever you think you can get away with) and an amount of cooked shredded chicken equivalent to a chicken breast or so. Allow the whole lot to come to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes or so until the noodles are cooked and the chicken is piping hot. Check the broth for seasoning, you can always add a little more soy sauce if necessary. Ladle into bowls and supply those conjoined chopsticks or a fork and also a spoon. Perfect.

Mine love this and not just because it is quick.

Adults may eat it too, but you might need to get a bit more creative, assuming time and scope. One might add a little chilli, flakes or fresh, mushrooms, fresh coriander etc.

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