The few remaining winter crops are putting on a showy display in the kitchen garden right now. The tough stalks and stems of Brussels sprouts and red cabbage have sent out tender, broccoli-like buds and the overgrown arugula is topped with creamy white, four-petal blooms. I could have pulled these plants out weeks ago, but I left them in place, both for their beauty and for their taste.
Brussels sprouts always surprise me this time of year with bright new growth bursting out along scarred stalks. Cabbages send out buds too, just below the point where the heads were cut. The red cabbage buds are especially pretty this year, blue green tinged with purple rising above the tattered winter leaves. Like the buds of kale, these other cabbage family flower buds are sweet and tender. Lightly steamed, they are delicious; sautéed in olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes they are even better.
There are many more arugula blossoms than I could possibly use but I’ve left them all blooming anyway. They make a lovely garnish—I scattered them over a frittata the other day—and their subtle, sweet flavor, less spicy than the leaves, is a great addition to early spring salads.
These buds and blossoms are a short-lived treat, the last gift of the winter garden. In a week or two we’ll have eaten them all and I’ll finally pull the plants to make way for spring and summer crops but for now we’re enjoying them.