Rich and exotic, the color purple has held both mystical and magical significance throughout history - and royal overtones as well.
In nature, too, this bold color holds special significance - it is the source of anthocyanins, the purple pigment with strong antioxidant activity. Various studies have shown that anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory properties, help protect both large and small blood vessels and eyesight, heart health, guard against the complications of diabetes and more.
What are purple vegetables? Eggplant, red onion, red lettuce (which also contains the antioxidant lutein), purple peppers (look almost black and available here only occasionally), red cabbage, purple potatoes, cauliflower and carrots (yes!). Despite their hue, the red-purple color in beets derives from betalaines, another group of antioxidant pigments.
According to Roni Muchtar from Moshav Geulim, who grows purple, yellow and green cauliflowers and multicolored carrots, these are all non-genetically modified vegetables developed to be rich in healthful pigments like the anthocyanins. For the seeds, Muchtar works together with an American university that developed them, and this is the first year that they are available in Israel, only at Supersol.
PURPLE CAULIFLOWER AND GREEN BEANS IN PISTACHIO PESTO
I made this rather psychedelic combination for dinner one night and served it on basmati rice. The kids loved it.
Note: To retain the bright purple color of the cauliflower, steam it over water rather than cook it in water.
Makes 4 or more
1 large purple cauliflower
1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen
whole green beans
(2 large handfuls)
1/2 cup chopped lettuce
1/2 cup toasted pistachios
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 Tbsp. fresh oregano, za'atar, coriander or
1 garlic clove, crushed
Break the cauliflower into florets and steam over boiling water for about 8 minutes (if you don't have a steamer basket, place them in a colander over a pot of boiling water. You may have to do this in two batches).
Cut the tips off the green beans and cut them in half on the diagonal. Add to the cauliflower and steam an additional 2-3 minutes (purple cauliflower cooks quicker than the white).
For the pesto - put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process till smooth or slightly chunky. Mix with the steamed vegetables and serve.
Makes 3-4 servings
1 fat eggplant (not the elongated kind), sliced into 1-1 1/2 cm. slices
Tomato sauce or sliced tomatoes
Grated mozzarella cheese
Grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh or dried oregano or basil
Lightly salt the eggplant slices on both sides and set aside in a colander to drain for 10 minutes. Rinse and dry. (Salting removes some of the bitterness, but this process is optional.)
Brush each slice with olive oil on both sides and place on a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Place under the grill in the oven and grill each side till golden (but not too soft). Remove from the oven. (You can also use this method to grill elongated slices of eggplant and roll and stuff them with filling.)
Top each slice with tomato or tomato sauce, cheeses and a little seasoning (if using fresh herbs, it's better to sprinkle them on after baking or grilling). Grill till the cheeses melt.
MULTICOLORED CARROT SALAD
A very easy and tasty salad. Multicolored carrots are also gorgeous in chicken soup.
Makes 4 or more servings
1/2 kg. purple or multicolored carrots, cleaned
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. cumin
Salt to taste
Tabasco or s'hug
2 Tbsp. parsley or fresh coriander
Sumac to garnish (optional)
Clean, slice and steam the carrots over boiling water till tender; drain.
Add the rest of the ingredients and garnish with the sumac while the carrots are still warm.