Don’t purple vegetables look incredible? Purple isn’t a common color in food, so it stands out even more when you do see it. Purple vegetables don’t just look good either. They’re also powerful for health, as the anthocyanins they contain have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
You might expect these vegetables to taste very different than their regular counterparts. Yet, the flavor impact is often small. Sometimes the purple version even tastes the same as the conventional green or orange version of the vegetable.
Of course, there are exceptions. Some purple vegetables do tend to taste earthier or have a wine-like flavor that isn’t found in regular ones. The purple versions still taste delicious either way, so why not experiment? Most purple vegetables can be used just like those of any other color.
Bright orange carrots are incredibly familiar, but carrots actually come in a rainbow of different colors. Purple carrots aren’t even a modern anomaly – they actually predate the current orange ones.
Like other purple vegetables, carrots are an excellent source of antioxidants, particularly the powerful anthocyanins. This alone is a good reason to eat these carrots regularly. Some varieties are also lower in sugar than the classic orange variety, which is perfect for anyone watching their sugar intake.
There are now multiple popular varieties of purple carrots to choose from, including Purple Dragon, Cosmic Purple, and Purple Haze. Some of these are only purple on the outside and still have a bright orange center. Others are deep purple all the way through.
Have you seen these strange root vegetables before? They look like purple and yellow potatoes, but have their own distinct texture. They’re best described as watery and slimy, although some varieties are a bit crisper. Regardless, they’re fascinating little tubers and an excellent addition to your dinner plate.
The texture means that you can’t make fries using ollucos, but don’t worry, the root vegetables still work well in many recipes, such as Olluco Con Carne.
Purple Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes typically have brown colored skin coupled with a bright orange interior. However, there are other varieties too. Some have purple skin and a white interior, while others have rich purple flesh instead and look absolutely stunning.
Okinawa sweet potatoes and Stokes Purple sweet potatoes are two of the most popular varieties. You may even be able to find them locally. The flavor changes somewhat between varieties, but most are a little sweet and have some wine-like flavor profiles.
However, because these varieties are fairly dry, you may need to cook them for longer than regular sweet potatoes.
Despite the name, red cabbage actually has a distinct purple color. What’s more – red cabbage is incredibly common. It’s one of the easiest purple vegetables to find, making it an excellent addition to your diet.
We can’t talk about red cabbage without also highlighting radicchio. It looks similar in many ways, but is actually a type of chicory rather than cabbage.
This difference is why radicchio has a bold and bitter flavor. Then there’s the leaves. These tend to be thinner and more tender than those you find with cabbage.
Despite the bitterness, radicchio is a versatile vegetable. It can be used raw in dishes like sandwiches and salads, or you can sauté it and enjoy it cooked instead.
You might know these beauties by the name eggplant or aubergine, but either way, we’re talking about an exciting vegetable that can be used in a variety of recipes.
You can even use cooked eggplant slices instead of meat to make a vegan sandwich. You’ll often see eggplants layered into lasagna as well, along with plenty of other uses.
Eggplants aren’t the most popular vegetable, so we don’t blame you if you’re skeptical. However, eggplants are a little like Brussels sprouts in that they’re delicious when cooked well and pretty awful when they’re not. A high quality recipe is the best place to start. This way you know exactly what to do every step of the way.
Chinese eggplants are similar to regular eggplants, but they tend to have fewer seeds. This makes them less bitter and easier to enjoy.
You can use Chinese eggplants instead of regular eggplants in many recipes. However, the decreased bitterness means you don’t need to salt Chinese eggplants. You can simply use them as-is.
Beets typically range from deep red to purple. Their flavor profile includes rich earthy notes that are contrasted by surprising sweetness.
Unlike other entries on this list, the red/purple coloring of beets comes from betalain pigments rather than anthocyanins. This isn’t a bad thing, though, as betalain is associated with plenty of health benefits too.
Purple cauliflower looks stunning, doesn’t it? The intensity of the coloring is influenced by variety, with Violet Queen offering some of the boldest colors.
Because the pigments are water soluble, this vegetable is best eaten raw. If you’re going to cook it, focus on dry heat methods like roasting, as more color is retained this way.
Interestingly, purple cauliflower tastes a little different than white cauliflower. It tends to be milder, with less bitterness than found in other cauliflower varieties. It can also be more tender, which is helpful if you’re eating it raw. You could even use this to make cauliflower rice.
Rutabaga also goes by the name swede and looks much like a giant turnip. That appearance isn’t surprising either, as the vegetable was most likely developed from a cross between a turnip and wild cabbage.
The flavor is a little like that of carrots, just with less sweetness. There’s a slight bitterness as well, but this isn’t dramatic and the vegetable still tastes good regardless.
Rutabagas are easy to work with too. You can basically peel, boil, and mash them just like potatoes. You can also use them in stews, casseroles, or even eat them raw. Why not experiment?
Thai eggplants are an unusual variety, as they’re small and circular. Many varieties have green and white skin with a pink interior, making them look like baby watermelons. But, there are also purple varieties.
It’s important to be careful with these eggplants, as they’re quite bitter. You’ll need to remove the seeds to get around this issue.
There are plenty of other eggplant varieties out there too, including Graffiti, Indian, Italian, and Rose Bianca. These all have purple skin and are used in similar ways, although they all have some distinct characteristics.
This broccoli looks a little unusual, as it follows the sprouting style. The florets are a little sweet, with a mild cabbage-like flavor. You can use the stems and leaves as well. These are also delicious.
The color generally disappears once the broccoli has been cooked. So, if you want your purple broccoli in a place of honor, you’ll need to use it raw instead.
These radishes don’t look like much from the outside, but they’re stunning on the inside. This time, we’re talking about a light purple color that really does look like the flesh of a watermelon.
This type of radish is a variety of daikon radish and has become popular in its own right. Despite the name, watermelon radishes don’t actually taste like watermelon. They have a peppery and slightly sweet taste instead.
You can cook these radishes or eat them raw. They’re delicious either way.
How can we go past purple kale? This looks stunning, and it may even be healthier than the green version due to the phytonutrients that give it the purple coloring.
This time, there is a flavor difference, as purple kale tends to have a stronger cabbage-like flavor than regular kale. You could even use the kale instead of cabbage in some recipes. Of course, the purple color often fades if you cook the kale, so you might want to eat it raw (or use it to make purple kale chips).
Purple Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts have a pretty awful reputation, which is a shame, as they can be delicious when prepared well.
While purple Brussels sprouts look quite different to their green counterparts, their flavor is very similar. They’re a little less pungent and a touch sweeter, but that’s it. Still, if you love regular Brussels sprouts, you’re likely to enjoy the purple ones just as much.
Try adding a little vinegar when cooking purple Brussels sprouts. This helps to keep more of their colors intact and gives you an exciting dish.
Okra is another one of those vegetables that some people love and some people hate. Still, if you enjoy it, the purple version is certainly worth a try.
This okra has two benefits. First, it contains more antioxidants than green okra and may offer more health benefits.
Second, purple okra looks fantastic in the garden. This is perfect if you’re looking for an ornamental and practical crop. You might even choose to grow purple okra for its appearance alone.
Yellow corn is the version we cook and serve in meals, while purple corn is often seen as ornamental. Yet, there are edible varieties of purple corn. You can use these in exactly the same way as regular corn.
Purple sweetcorn often tastes similar to the yellow corn we’re familiar with, although there are still some differences between varieties. That said, purple corn is most often used to make flour or products like tortillas. Fresh purple corn isn’t used that often currently.
It’s strange how we call these red onions, given that their skin is often red-purple or fully purple rather than red. Either way, the onions provide plenty of plant-based compounds and are a fantastic ingredient.
You can cook or pickle the onions, but they’re even more remarkable raw. Here, their flavor stands out against other ingredients, making your dish taste so much better.
A particularly interesting variety is Purplette onions. These are tiny and purple, then turn pinkish once cooked. Notably, these onions are sweet, without the pungency found in the larger red onions.
Dulse is a type of edible seaweed, which makes it a vegetable of the sea, rather than one of the land. Like other types of seaweed, dulse provides plenty of fiber and protein, along with vitamins and minerals, making it a truly healthy ingredient.
You’re also getting plenty of iodine with dulse. This is important for your thyroid and for helping with hormonal balance.
Why stick with green asparagus when you can go with a beautiful purple version instead? Purple asparagus tends to be a touch sweeter than green asparagus, with a milder and slightly nuttier flavor.
Such differences in flavor aren’t bad at all. You might even find that you prefer purple asparagus to the green version.
Purple lettuce isn’t that unusual. There are multiple interesting cultivars, including Sweet Red, Sangria, and Merlot Lettuce. Some are purple through and through, while others combine purple and green.
You’ll also see differences in style, with some being crisp and others being chewier instead. Why not experiment with a few types and see which you prefer the most?
Purple bell peppers are especially appealing. They’re only purple when they’re unripe, but you can eat them at this point and they taste wonderful. There are spicy purple peppers too, which add some heat to your meals.
All types of purple peppers are fun to experiment with. You could create some truly unique dishes using them.
While tomatoes are technically a type of fruit, we treat them like a vegetable. Besides, purple tomatoes are too cool to leave off this list. These tomatoes don’t just tend to look amazing. They also have a complex and rich flavor profile.
Purple tomatoes are fascinating, as there is actually a genetically modified purple tomato that’s meant to provide extra health benefits. This is incredibly unusual, as most other unusually colored foods are due to selective breeding.
Thankfully, there are also heirloom dark colored tomatoes, including some purple ones. Because these are heirloom varieties, they shouldn’t be genetically modified. You can grow many of these in your home garden.
Purple sweet potatoes aren’t the end of the story. There are also many varieties of purple potatoes. Their coloring is often referenced in the name, such as Purple Fiesta, Purple Peruvian, and Purple Majesty. Others use blue in their name instead, like Blue Anneliese.
Some estimates suggest that there are roughly 100 varieties of purple potatoes, giving you plenty to choose from. However, these are mostly varieties for you to grow yourself, as they’re not often found in farmer’s markets or local stores.
Growing your own veggies is the best bet anyway. This allows you to try out many cultivars that you could never purchase locally.
Turnips are often a combination of purple and white, purple from where they grow above the ground and white from where they’re below ground. However, once you cut the turnip open, it has bright white flesh throughout.
Turnips have a pretty mild flavor, but can be delicious when cooked well. You’ll need to choose your turnips carefully to get the most from them. Look for young and small turnips. These generally taste much better.
Finally, we come to purple beans. There are many types of beans here too, including some pole cultivars and some that grow on bushes instead. The flavor profile is similar to green beans, except that purple ones tend to be sweeter.
Most purple beans lose their purple color very fast indeed. They’ll look like regular green beans in the pot before long at all.
You can use these vegetables just like you would any other type. But, there’s one catch – many of them will lose their color when they’re cooked – just like the purple beans we from above.
This is particularly true for any that are traditionally green, like asparagus. If you want to keep the coloring, you’ll need to serve them raw, perhaps in thin slices.
If you are going to cook them, look for dry heat approaches like roasting. These retain the most color. Boiling the vegetables is generally a bad idea, as the color can easily leach out into the water.
Using a little vinegar or lemon juice in your recipe can help boost the color of your vegetables, making them look even more dramatic.
Finally, be careful of your surfaces when working with purple vegetables. Juice from the vegetables can easily stain cutting boards and counters. Your skin might even turn red or purple for a while. While this issue is most significant with beets, it can also happen with other vegetables.