I like to think that I’ve got a pretty decent general knowledge. Sure, I know more about certain topics – football and CBeebies spring to mind – but I reckon I could hold my own on The Chase or Tipping Point. It was therefore with a furrowed brow that I recently read an email about a new vegetable called Kalettes. I’d not only never heard of these, but as a wider point, I didn’t know it was possible to make ‘new’ veg. I assumed we were stuck with what we had.
Alas, no. It turns out that you can create new vegetables. 15 or so years in the making, Kalettes are basically a hybrid between superfood kale and Christmas favourite Brussel sprouts. They’re a non-GMO vegetable created by a process called ‘hybridisation’. I don’t know the ins and outs, but I like to think it’s similar to how Indominus Rex was created in Jurassic World – only with less teeth and more health benefits.
As I’m always up for trying something a bit different – and having some toddler-free time – I decided to go along to a cooking event hosted by Kalettes. To clarify, I mean the people behind Kalettes – it’s not like actual vegetables were hosting the party. So, the other Wednesday, I made the trip down to Clapham to Cactus Kitchens to meet this sprout-like plant.
On arrival, I met up with two of my blogging favourites – Donna (What The Redhead Said) and Jade (Raising The Rings) – and we were given a brief tour around the place. It turns out that Cactus Kitchens is home to the Michel Roux Jr Cookery School and the Saturday Kitchen studio too.
From here, we were shown upstairs for drinks and snacks. As you’d expect, the food was Kalettes based and included things like Crispy Five Spice Kalettes and Kalettes Sushi. I popped my Kalettes virginity and it was a pleasant experience. As far as I can tell, the Prosecco didn’t include any hidden Kalettes – although I think that’s a pretty good idea to get one of your five a day.
I didn’t know what the plan was for the night, so I kind of thought that this might be it. However, we were then taken up another set of stairs into a large room with numerous cooking workstations. It was a bit like Masterchef or The Great British Bake Off. It became evident at this point that if I wanted to eat,I was going to have to cook it myself.
First though, there was a bit of a presentation by one of the blokes behind Kalettes – or ‘flower sprouts’ – who explained more. Basically, they wanted to give Brussels sprouts a face lift, so decided to cross it with superfood kale. The result was a versatile veg – it can be sauteed, roasted, grilled or eaten raw – which is milder and sweeter than Brussels sprouts but has a nutty flavour.
Available from October to March, Kalettes actually contain double the amount of vitamin B6 and twice the amount of vitamin C than standard Brussels sprouts. So, in theory, they taste nicer than both kale and Brussels sprouts, whilst packing a lot of veggie goodness. Appearance wise, they have a tall stem and frilly leaves, with streaks of purple running through them.
Next, it was time for the cooking demonstration. The chef explained that we were going to make chicken breast rolled and filled with red peppers, cheese and Kalettes – kind of like a posh chicken kiev. This would be served with a warm side salad of Kalettes, beetroot and chestnuts, along with roast potatoes. I was bloody starving at this point and the awesome smells coming from the kitchen didn’t help my rumbling stomach.
After the demonstration, we were let loose and allowed to prepare the recipe ourselves. I’d not done a cookery course thing like this before, but was really looking forward to it. I’m always keen to try new recipes and the majority of the ingredients used in the recipe were stuff we tend to have at home anyway.
I was looking forward to giving the recipe a bash – a literal bash at that as the chicken breast needed flattening with a rolling pin. My workstation was opposite Donna’s so looking across at her gave me plenty of motivation to hit the chicken as hard as I could (I jest…a bit…).
The cooking was actually a lot of fun and I learnt a few techniques along the way – namely how to peel a beetroot, that a fish knife won’t cut nuts (without injury) and that I should probably listen to instructions a bit more. Despite not having the greatest presentation of all time, the food looked and smelt really good. After the cooking came the eating. We headed back downstairs and got to tuck into our creations. The food was really tasty and it didn’t last long on my plate.
Having now been on a cooking course at a place where Michel Roux Jr works, I feel like my opinion carries a lot of weight. As such, I can confirm that the Kalettes did taste nice (sweet and nutty) and didn’t come with any of the yuckiness (a technical term by us professional chefs) I associate with both kale and Brussels sprouts.
As part of a goodie bag we were given for attending, I was able to take home my very own Kalettes. I’ve used these a few times in recipes I’ve cooked – a stir fry, a risotto and inside a stuffed chicken similar to the one we cooked on the night. I’m someone who sticks a lot of vegetables into anything I cook, so I can totally see myself doing this with Kalettes too. All in all, it was a fun night hanging out with vegetables – something which I never thought I’d write!
What do you make of Kalettes? Have you heard / tried them before? Let me know below!
N.B. This is a collaborative post written with Kalettes.