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 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