A trip to the farmer’s market is always an adventure. Aside from being better for the environment and a great way to support your local farmers, farmer’s markets are the perfect spot for finding produce you wouldn’t find in your average grocery store. In recent years, another interesting veggie has been showing up at farmer’s markets nationwide and you might even be lucky enough to spot it at your local grocery store: purple cauliflower. Let’s find out what makes this eye-catching vegetable so special and why you might want to track it down.
About Purple Cauliflower
The vibrancy of purple cauliflower can range from pastel to a deep purple, which is also called Grafitti cauliflower. Other names for purple cauliflower include Sicilian Violet or Violet Queen, which also depend on how brightly colored the head is. Purple cauliflower’s color comes from a little antioxidant called anthocyanin, which is also found in red wine and other purple veggies. Like regular cauliflower, purple cauliflower is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, fiber, and antioxidants. While the outside part of purple cauliflower is colorful, the core is white or pastel.
Purple cauliflower has the same firm texture and crumbly florets as regular cauliflower. Generally, their flavors are very similar, but purple cauliflower has been described as having a sweeter, nuttier, and less bitter taste. When selecting purple cauliflower, choose a head that is firm, feels heavier than it looks, has tightly packed florets, and is free from as many blemishes as possible. Fresh-looking, vibrant leaves are a good indicator of a cauliflower that has been harvested more recently. To store it, trim the leaves (wash and keep the leaves for salad, to cut down on food waste), place it in a plastic back, and store it in your high-humidity crisper drawer for up to seven days.
Thankfully, cooking with purple cauliflower is just as easy as cooking with regular cauliflower — and it is just as versatile! For a centerpiece, try this Whole Roasted Cauliflower With Mint Parsley Pepita Sauce. The whole cauliflower head is massaged with garlic and olive oil, then roasted until tender and paired with a fresh mint and pumpkin seed sauce. In terms of presentation, the purple cauliflower paired with bright green sauce has a total “wow” factor. Of course, you can try it with recipes that aren’t specifically for purple cauliflower, too, like this Whole Roasted Cauliflower With Calabrian Chili Tahini Sauce or this Spice-Rubbed Roasted Cauliflower Steak With Spinach Tahini Sauce.
For something simple, just swap white cauliflower for purple in this Creamy Garlic and Thyme Rigatoni With Roasted Cauliflower. Try purple cauliflower as a side, like this simple Mustard Roasted Purple Cauliflower or this Golden Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas. Or, you can just steam it like you would with broccoli. Just be sure to check for doneness frequently, as it may lose some if its color if overcooked.
Here’s where cooking gets fun and colorful. Just like you can cook and purée regular cauliflower into creamy soups, mashes, and sauces, you can do the same with purple cauliflower. This Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is made with cauliflower and carrots; try making the sauce purple by using purple cauliflower, purple carrots, and omitting the turmeric used to make the “cheese” sauce yellow. This Cauliflower Millet Mash is another great way to try out purple cauliflower. It’s made from a mix of cauliflower and millet, so choose the darkest purple cauliflower you can find because the millet will act as “white” and you should be left with a lovely shade of pastel purple. The same rule applies to this Creamy Cauliflower Soup, which is made from cauliflower and white beans.
Because of color theory, we can guess that purple cauliflower might lose its “wow” factor if you are using it to make appetizers like these Spicy BBQ Cauliflower Wings or these Kung Pao Cauliflower Bites.
Unfortunately, this beautiful cruciferous veg is still scarce in the produce aisle of everyday grocery stores. Your best bet for finding purple cauliflower is likely grocery stores such as Whole Foods that tend sell a lot of specialty ingredients. Or better yet, find out where your local farmer’s market is! Many farmer’s markets are now connected through social media so you can find out which farms will be attending and what produce they will be carrying. If you find out that a local farm is going to bring purple cauliflower to the next market, we advise that you plan to show up right when it opens because everyone will want to go home with one.
If you cannot find purple cauliflower in your area, you aren’t completely out of luck. Try growing your own with these Purple Cauliflower Seeds. One packet of 40 seeds costs just $1.40.
Remember, cauliflower is an extremely versatile vegetable, so purple cauliflower is no exception. If anything, its color makes cooking it fun! Try using purple cauliflower to make show-stopping dishes like this vibrant Purple Cauliflower Peanut Coconut Curry. The combination of the creamy, spiced golden curry sauce, green string beans, and roasted purple cauliflower is absolutely stunning. Or, try purple cauliflower in this Roasted Cauliflower Curry. You can also use cauliflower to make creamy sauce, like this Cauliflower Carbonara Sauce or this Cauliflower Alfredo — just swap the white potatoes for purple potatoes to make the sauce even brighter. While we’re on the topic of making food vibrant with purple cauliflower, these Tofu Hors D’Oeuvre With Beet Hummus are possibly the most Instagram-worthy appetizer you’ll even find. The tofu is roasted with turmeric to make it gold, then it’s topped with bright pink beet hummus and a purple cauliflower floret.
Don’t forget about cauliflower rice! Simple cut the purple cauliflower into chunks, add it to the bowl of your food processor, and pulse until it’s a rice-like crumble. Then, use it in this Cauliflower Rice With Mushrooms and Spinach, this Easy Cauliflower Rice and Greens, or this Sweet Coconut Cauliflower Rice. Just be sure to omit the turmeric because the combination of yellow and purple will make brown!
Did you know you can make pizza crust and flatbread with cauliflower? Try using purple cauliflower to make this Cauliflower Crust Pesto Pizza or these crispy Cauliflower Flatbreads. You can also try it with finger food like these breaded Crisp Cauliflower Bites so they will be golden on the outside and purple on the outside — which sounds like a great way to get finicky people to eat their veggies.
Surprisingly, you can also use cauliflower to make dessert. Purple cauliflower would make these Cauliflower Nice Cream Bowls a lovely purple color that can be enhanced be blueberries or açaí berries. Or, give this Cauliflower Tahini Cheesecake a whirl with purple cauliflower.
Don’t limit yourself to what you know! Have fun cooking with purple cauliflower and trying it in new ways. For more inspiration, read Do You Really Know How to Cook Cauliflower? Here are 10 Ways! and then check out our vegan cauliflower recipes page.
Recommendation: Download the Food Monster App
If you enjoy articles like this and want more, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App. For those that don’t have it, it’s a brilliant food app available for both Android and iPhone. It’s a great resource for anyone looking to cut out or reduce allergens like meat, dairy, soy, gluten, eggs, grains, and more find awesome recipes, cooking tips, articles, product recommendations and how-tos. The app shows you how having diet/health/food preferences can be full of delicious abundance rather than restrictions.
The Food Monster app has over 8000+ recipes and 500 are free. To access the rest, you have to pay a subscription fee but it’s totally worth it because not only do you get instant access to 8000+ recipes, you get 10 NEW recipes every day! You can also make meal plans, add bookmarks, read feature stories, and browse recipes across hundreds of categories like diet, cuisine, meal type, occasion, ingredient, popular, seasonal, and so much more!
Lead image source: FPWing/Shutterstock