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Purple Cauliflower

As a devout cauliflower lover, I was mildly excited to see purple cauliflower at my local farmer's market the other day. I prepared it my favorite simple cauliflower way--roasted with olive oil, garlic and sea salt on the tail end of my roasted Zuni chicken cook time. Alas, it was mushy, not at all crispy although roasted at 475, and flavorless. I mean flavorless. No more purple cauliflower for me.

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  1. I had some raw. Very good.

    1. I've been tempted to buy some to try in different dishes at home... but never got around to it. Thanks for confirming that it is NOT like the regular stuff.

      1. I saw some PC too the other week and wondered if I ought to get one. And I was gonna ask if it tasted any different to a regular cauliflower, but I guess I don't need to now.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Prawn Cocktail

          I bought a purple cauliflower for my Thanksgiving dinner a couple of weeks ago (Canadian Thanksgiving is in October); I thought it would look great on the plate. It had absolutely no flavour and lost most of its colour in the steaming liquid

          1. re: Prawn Cocktail

            I had a purple cauliflower from a farmers market and it was fine and tasted like regular cauliflower and was not mushy. It has the same anti-oxidents as blueberries giving it more nutritional value than regular cauliflower. The only problem for me was the color. It was just too jarring on the plate.

            It just takes too much effort to search these days, but I did ask a while back if there was anything that can be done with the water it cooks in ... since as another poster mentioned, the water turns purple. I wanted to get some of the nutritional value from the antioxidents that had leached into the water. Steaming is probably better for this vegetable.

            The yellow cauliflower is called golden cauliflower. I haven't tried that yet.

            1. re: rworange

              You could always cook pasta in the water. That with a deeply colored cheddar cheese should cause some talk at the table.

              1. re: rworange

                We boiled eggs in the water and tinted the shells. Looked pretty; naturally had no effect on flavor.

                As for recipe ideas, purple cauliflower lends itself very well to a soup preparation like this:


                Otherwise, I would use it as part of a colorful veggie platter; steamed lightly and dipped in hummus.

            2. I saw some purple and orange cauliflower at the store earlier tonight. I thought, "hmmm...." Then I grabbed a head of regular cauliflower. Not feeling adventuresome tonight...

              Is PC and OC natural, or is this a genetically engineered gimmick veggie?

              3 Replies
              1. re: AbdulSheikhMohammed

                I grew an Italian heirloom purple cauliflower in my garden this spring. It turns green when cooked and has a little more chlorophyll flavor than white cauliflower. I found it sweet and tasty, a lot like romanesco broccoli. I've also seen the yellow cauliflower in heirloom seed catalogs but I've never tried it. Maybe the colored cauliflower in stores isn't very fresh.

                1. re: AbdulSheikhMohammed

                  My husband actually asked me if the purple cauliflower had been artificially dyed! This, after seeing the colour of the steam water.

                  1. We get purple and orange cauliflower all the time from our CSA and it is great. The first time we had it, it struck us as sweeter than the white, but now I would say it is the same.

                    1. The one time I had it, I attempted to roast it (one of my favorite cauliflower preps). It tasted fine (although no different than regular cauliflower), but turned a unappetizing grey color. Anyone else have that problem.

                      1. There are a couple of growers at my local farmer's market (Hollywood Market in Los Angeles on Sundays) that sell heirloom, organic varieties of cauliflower, including yellow and purple. While they do lose color after cooking, the flavor of the varieties I've tried has been exceptional -- nutty, slightly sweet, and delicious.

                        1. I've bought purple cauliflower from local groceries, roasted them with salt and garlic and found them to be pretty much identical in taste and texture to white cauliflower. The color faded some so it wasn't very distinctive. I think some acid might help to prevent the color change, perhaps some lemon juice or mild vinegar.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: cheryl_h

                            Cool. Thanks for the hint about the acid. Will give that a try ... though don't know why since I can't find a food to match this with.

                            1. re: rworange

                              pine nuts and cauliflower...m-m-m-m-m

                            2. re: cheryl_h

                              Be careful adding acids to foods like this b/c they could actually CHANGE color - and not always for the better! Have you ever noticed that when you cook lemon and garlic the garlic turns blue? Purple/red cabbage also changes color when acid is added - they're phytoreactive. I haven't tried adding acid to purple cauliflower but it could actually make the color worse! If you lightly steam it tho it seems to retain nearly all of it's color! :D

                            3. I bought a head of purple cauliflower early in the season, cooked it simply, just in the microwave w/no add'l water added, and it was very nice, and I loved the appearance. Even took some pics at the time.

                              1. I just cooked some pc, and afterward sprinkled it with lemon pepper. What a riot of color, and it tastes good enough. I am going to experiment with acids, as I suspect they play the role. It now is a wild mosaic of lavender, hot pink and yellow, perfect for my guests tonight.

                                1. i love cauliflower....white green and orange. i was excited to see the purple also! all we did with it was steam it slightly....DELICIOUS!

                                  1. I just cook purple and green cauliflower for dinner. I boiled them until tender to the touch, sprinkle a bit of butter and salt to the taste. The flavor is very mild, my son and his friends (all teenagers) really enjoy it. They were amazed about the purple one. The purple lost a bit of its color. It ended up looking like a pale lavender. Amazingly, I boiled the green and purple cauliflower in the same pot, end the green didn't absorb any of the purple color. It was a tasty vegetable treat.

                                    1. Purple cauliflower contains anthocyanin, a water-soluable vacuolar pigment, as does other red produce (blueberries, beets, red cabbage, red potatoes, red grapes, et al) and the pigment will leach into the liquid the vegetable is cooked in. I recommend steaming to maintain some pigment retention. The various flavonoid pigments found in red and white vegetables are better maintained if cooked together with an acid. Add the acid half way through cooking. You can add acid to white cauliflower also to maintain the color.

                                      There's some confusion as to where purple cauliflower originated; I've seen South Africa, Holland, Denmark, Italy and even China mentioned, but aside from country of origin, apparently it's been around for a few centuries and is considered a heirloom vegetable.
                                      I like purple and green cauliflower but find them to be a little milder in flavor and more tender compared to the good old white ones. Maybe roasting is not the best method of cooking. A quick saute with olive oil and garlic or a little carmelization in a hot cast iron pan is good.
                                      "Purple/red cabbage also changes color when acid is added - they're phytoreactive" I dont' know what phytoreative is, a compound derived from smoke for application in horticulture? Maybe the word phytoreactive is a typo. At any rate, I don't think that has anything to do with anthocyanin and acid.;-)