Monday, February 15, 2016

A New Vegetable on the Block: Kalettes

You remember old Gregor Mendel and his peas from junior high science, right? How he figured out the basics of genetics by breeding different varieties of peas together to see how their characteristics changed over generations?

Well, someone, in this case Tozer Seeds, a British vegetable breeding company, did something of the same thing by breeding kale and brussels sprouts together. This was possible because kale and brussels sprouts are both members of the brassica oleracea group. And, looking for a new vegetable line that consumers might just want to take home to meet the family, the plant breeders at Tozer came up with a cross between the two that has a milder flavor than a brussels sprout but packs all the nutrients and fiber of kale.

Tozer dubbed this new vegetable "Kalettes" (pron. kay-LETS) and has trademarked the name, but because they were created by using traditional cross-pollinating, any company could create their own hybrids. And they have, with names like BrusselKale, Lollipop Kale and Flower Sprout.

I ran across them at Josh Alsberg's new Rubinette Produce in the Providore Fine Foods store on NE Sandy. The purple-green, rapini-like florets in his case were grown by Mustard Seed Farms in St. Paul, but they're available right now at local farmers' markets from Groundwork Organics and Gathering Together Farm, among others.

I understand from Josh that they're wonderful roasted, and you can obviously also steam them, but I'm thinking they might be terrific stir-fried or chopped into a salad. If you get some, let me know how you like them best, and if you come up with any new nicknames!

Photo on upper left from the Kalettes website.


Anonymous said...

I too harvested these last year. I called them 'sproutitas'! I had lots of Brussels sprouts that had overwintered and one late winter day while on my walk-about, I noticed they were starting to be covered with these cute, flowery, edible-looking things. They popped off easily and were delicious in a stir fry. I thought I should try to sell them, and they sold well! I didn't know it was a thing...

Kathleen Bauer said...

It's a thing…make more! I like the "Sproutitas" name. And they really do stir-fry well, maintaining their shape, color and that crunch. Good luck!