Flower sprouts over lupines
Maybe some of my UK readers will recognize this fun little vegetable – but it’s certainly new to me!
Man always strives to do newer and greater things, sometimes with more success than others. Flower sprouts and lupine-based food products, I can tell you, are definitely two success stories!
A flower sprout, I learned, is a “new” vegetable that is a cross between Brussel sprouts and kale. (Not cauliflower and sprouts, as the name might lead you to believe. Even though along with broccoli and cabbage, they are all part of the brassica oleracea family.) And because they come from the same family, they are easily crossbred and are non-GMO. Compared to normal Brussel sprouts, they are said to have twice the amount of vitamins B6, C and E.
Ok, so they are new, fun looking and healthy – but what you really want to know is how they taste, right? Not everyone appreciates the bitterness and firm texture of Brussel sprouts. However, when you throw the slightly sweeter, somewhat nutty flavor of kale into the mix, the resulting vegetable is more mild-mannered, like Clark Kent. And just like both kids and adults are fans of Superman, they’re also more likely to clean their plates when flower sprouts are put in front of them!
At first I planned on cutting them in half and sautéing them in margarine. Upon closer inspection I saw that cutting them in half wasn’t really the right way to go. To be fair, there isn’t much sprout consistency here – they are more or less little green flower buds with only a very little base or stem. So, I just carefully trimmed off a tiny bit of the stem and steamed them – I wanted them to look as pretty after cooking, as they did before!
And well, if one new and unusual food item is fun, the more the merrier I thought! So, hand over all your lupines!
I’ve been a fan of lupine-based protein products for a few years now. More than once, lupines have been predicted to become the soy beans of Europe, and I really hope they finally catch on and live up to all their potential. I believe it’s the Netherlands who are responsible for most of the commercial lupine growing in Europe, but it’s nothing to match Western Australia – the world’s largest producer and exporter of lupines.
It’s always good to eat a varied diet and not too much of any one thing, so I am really excited when I discover new, lupine-based products packed with protein. That way, when I’m asked for the umpteenth time “Where do you get your protein?”, I’ll be able to say “Lupines!” and see the look on people’s faces. Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of lupine products I can get my hands on at the moment. I used to buy lupine fillets and gyros made by a German company, but they are no longer available here.
Lucky for me, I stumbled upon organic lupine “bulgur”. The term bulgur threw me off a bit at first, but as I’ve mentioned once and will surely mention again, naming conventions aren’t always as easy as they seem. Anyway, I don’t care what you call them, this wonderful product contains one thing and one thing only – precooked, crushed, organic lupine beans! And are you ready for this – they contain over 39% protein!
The instructions on the package say to boil them in water for 10-12 minutes and then pour off the excess water. However, I usually like to add vegetable stock to my bulgur, couscous and now, my lupines. So, I boil my organic lupines the same way I would rice, for example, and use twice the amount of water. This turns out great. Don’t be surprised by the aroma when they’re boiling, because, for better or worse, they smell a lot like chicken soup!
Of course if you can’t find either of these fun ingredients, you can use more traditional ones – I’ve made this dish countless times using good ole Brussels sprouts and bulgur and it’s every bit as good, if not slightly less fun. So stake out the produce aisle, stop into a specially shop, write to your local grocery store… Tell them you want to make flower sprouts over lupins and are wondering where these fun, healthy, and delicious things are!
- 2½ cups (6 dl) - water
- 1¼ cup (3 dl or ca 250 grams) - organic crushed lupine beans
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) - vegetable stock powder
- 7 oz (200 g) - flower sprouts
- Olive oil / vinegar
- 7 oz (200 g) - smoked tofu, cubed
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) - tamari or soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp ( 15ml) - liquid smoke
- 1 red onion or leek, chopped or diced
- Plant-based parmesan cheese
- The smoked tofu is optional and can be replaced with something else if desired, but if you are going to use it, it's best to start by cutting the tofu into small cubes, and marinating it in the liquid smoke and tamari for a while.
- Pour 2½ cups water in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the lupines and vegetable stock. Boil for 12-15 minutes.
- Heat some oil in a frying pan over medium high heat and fry the tofu so that it gets some color. Add the onion/leek and fry for a few more minutes.
- Toss the ready-steamed flower sprouts in some olive oil and vinegar and together with the smoked tofu and onions, serve them over the lupines, and top with some shredded plant-based parmesan cheese.