Brighten Up Your Spring Dishes With Purple Cauliflower

Purple cauliflower soup
Purple cauliflower soup - Mediterranean/Getty Images

The humble cauliflower has experienced a resurgence in its popularity in recent times as home cooks experiment with making cauli rice, roasted cauliflower steaks, and even cauliflower pizza crusts. However, as delicious as this versatile veg may be, its creamy color doesn't pop on the plate unless it's been slathered in spices and sauces. An awesome way to create striking spring dishes that catch the eye is to switch your classic cauli for a gutsier purple cauliflower.

The arresting color of purple cauliflower is enough to stop you in your tracks at the produce market. The stunning purple pigment in this cruciferous vegetable is derived from a special antioxidant called anthocyanin. This clever flavonoid is also present in other purple-colored foods, such as berries, plums, eggplant, and red cabbage.

While the color of purple cauliflower is distinctive, its flavor is virtually the same as its white counterpart — although some say it has a softer texture and mildly nuttier taste to white cauliflower when cooked. This means you can use purple cauliflower in any of your regular cauli dishes, such as cauliflower cheese or crispy cauliflower Parmesan, without worrying about a change in its overall flavor or texture. However, be mindful that purple cauliflower can lose its intensely vibrant hue when cooked too long — the purple mellows out into a bluey green tinge instead of remaining vibrantly amethyst. Sauteing, grilling, or charring it in dry heat helps it retain as much of its beautiful magenta-like color as possible.

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Purple Cauliflower Steaks Make A Striking Dinner Party Main

Chopping purple cauliflower on board
Chopping purple cauliflower on board - RaraAvisPhoto/Shutterstock

Slice purple cauliflower in the same way as you'd slice through a regular cauli to make vibrant vegetarian steaks. Roast them Israeli-style with butter and red pepper flakes, instead of using a dry rub made with dark spices that could mask their natural beauty. You can also use purple cauliflower to make an inviting roasted garlic cauliflower soup. Baking the cauli in the oven, rather than simmering it, will help the florets keep their color because the anthocyanin won't get the chance to leach out as they boil. If you cook the florets in water, it's best to quickly blanch them before immediately plunging them into an ice bath. Supplementing the cooked cauli with beetroot before blitzing will guarantee an intensely purple-colored soup.

Finally, one of the easiest, low-effort ways to showcase the dramatic hue of purple cauliflower is to serve it raw on a crudite platter or fresh salad. The striking color can transform a simple cauliflower potato salad recipe into a stunning side with a couple of adaptations. Instead of boiling the florets, slice them thinly with a mandoline (or shred them with a box grater) to enjoy them in their delicious, raw state. Want to create a technicolor knockout of a salad? Combine your slithers of purple cauliflower with the lime-green curds of a Romanesco cauliflower before coating them in a flavorful salad dressing.

Read the original article on Tasting Table