The Veg Plot

Huauzontle – a Mexican success story

huauzontle shoots aztec broccoli

2012’s miserable weather has been unkind on one of our Mexican veg, the mouse melon, but another has taken to our allotment like a worm to tequila.

Huauzontle, aka Aztec broccoli, was sown only six weeks ago as a catch crop and we’re already tucking into its healthy latin leaves.

How to grow huauzontle
These plants grow rapidly and are prone to bolting if sown too early, so they’re best sown in late summer and, judging by the soil that is holding our crops, they don’t seem too fussy about nutrient quality.

The seeds displayed an impressive germination rate and, although there were some losses to slugs, their suffering was nothing compared to the decimation experienced by their neighbouring cauliflowers.

Once established they’re trouble free and soon take on a similar plant structure to purple sprouting broccoli, with a main central stem surrounded by further leafy side shoots, all topped with tightly packed flower heads.

Harvesting and cooking huauzontle
Before too long the flower heads will shot skywards and show off millions of tiny flower buds. These are traditionally battered, fried and served with cheese as some bizarre looking* Mexican fritter. But we’re currently dining on the young shoots and leaves.

These are cooked like regular broccoli – and while the initial smell isn’t too encouraging, the final results are superb. They have a delicate broccoli flavour with a hint of a runner bean to them (no, really) and their texture is amazing. It seems that no amount of boiling will reduce them to a spinachy mess, giving them a good, soft bite throughout.

Seeds sown: Huauzontle (aka Aztec broccoli), The Real Seed Catalogue

*See comments for the great controversy this description has caused…

8 Comments

  • I have been growing huauzontle for years and it’s a great favourite in our house (even with the kids!).
    We find it’s akin to spinach in flavour bit much more robust. Makes an excellent curry with potatoes. Holds its shape better than spinach and is full of macro nutrients and vitamins.
    A really easy veg to grow but make sure you pick regularly to get the best out of it. Pick the young shoots before they flower for the best tenderness and flavour.
    Have fun!

  • We love it. Don’t know why the popular tortitas de huauzontle (“fritters”) are described as “bizarre”. Nothing weird about the preparation. Maybe the frying is unhealthy, but certainly not odd or strange.

    • Hi Norma
      Apologies if my ‘bizarre’ description offended. Being so unfamiliar with the vegetable and its cooking methods I relied on internet searches to see what the ‘fritters’ looked like and most of the ones did look bizarre! Now I know they’re actually tortitas it makes more sense. Next time I grow some I’ll try out the dish.

  • I’m about to sow my first hauzontle seeds, good to read it succeeds. Am in Scotland so plan to sow in pans and transplant later – maybe some direct sown as an experiment? Is it an annual or any chance of it perenniating? Good to read your information, thanks!

    • I would definitely try a direct sow experiment as it’s the only way I’ve grown them so can’t say how successful they would be to transplant seedlings (although I’m sure they’ll be fine). And I’ve only grown them as an annual and haven’t given them a chance to self seed! Good luck

  • Definitely nothing bizarre about them being made as fritters. Innovative is a better word. Also there is nothing Latin about this plant. European colonizers love to take credit for things that do not belong to them. This plant is indigenous and it is sacred, and you should educate yourself.

    • Oof! How rude!
      There really is no need to get your fritters in such a twist.
      I have already apologised for my use of the word ‘bizarre’ and have suffixed the offensive word with ‘looking’, as ‘bizarre looking’ is how the google images I viewed seemed to me at the time.
      As for your remarks about the plant’s origin I do not doubt your claim, however, every reference I found described them as Mexican, so I have done likewise and I don’t thing doing so makes me uneducated.

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