Increasing amounts of purple foods on the plate have been predicted as a trend for 2017 by Whole Foods, and we’ve noticed the same trend at The Chef’s Garden. In fact, purple on the plate is so popular that we’ve decided that this hue is the new black. Watch how stunning it looks as different types and textures of purple foods are placed on a pure white palette:
We’ve decided to look into this current food trend in more depth, including talking to top chefs from around the world to gather their insights. But, first, here’s some context.In our January 2017 blog post, Vegetable State of the Union: Current Food Trends, we shared the following: “Purple vegetables – many of them old varieties, and some that are new hybrids – are receiving a tremendous amount of attention as chefs and diners seek out nutritional powerhouses that deliver both dynamic flavor and a pop of color that demands undivided attention. Vibrantly-hued purple cauliflower, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and asparagus guarantee that even the most vegetable averse will sit down and eat their vegetables.”
According to Whole Foods experts, as reported by The Telegraph, “Richly colored purple foods are popping up everywhere: purple cauliflower, black rice, purple asparagus, elderberries, acai, purple sweet potatoes, purple corn and cereal . . . The power of purple goes beyond the vibrant color and often indicates nutrient density and antioxidants.”
Benefits of purple foods, shares Matthew Plowman, a Nutrition Adviser at Cardiff Sports Nutrition, include:
Keeping you looking younger
Shape.com, meanwhile, cites a government report sharing how “nearly 90 percent of Americans don't eat enough produce from this color family [purple], which is linked to a slew of health benefits, from protecting memory, slowing the aging process and safeguarding your heart, to warding off Alzheimer's, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's disease.” This article was written by a registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health.
Fortune.com lists the following as excellent examples of purple foods to add to plates: “purple asparagus, purple cauliflower, and purple sweet potatoes.” And, here’s what three top chefs say on the subject.
Executive Chef Gregg Zeringue was one of the earliest chefs to teach at The Chef Garden’s Culinary Vegetable Institute and he shares how he appreciates today’s greater availability of purple vegetables. He began using them in the early 2000s, starting with Chinese long beans. “Other purple vegetables that I now use,” he shares, “include purple carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, beans and asparagus, and I also sometimes use Romanesco.”
Because aesthetics plays such an important role in the enjoyment of a dish, Gregg loves to create sunbursts of different colors on a plate by adding a rainbow of purees in his culinary creations. “This adds color intensity to my dishes,” he says, “including the use of purple.”
He adds that he appreciates the vegetables from The Chef’s Garden because of their high quality and ease of shipping, and because of the product specialists’ in-depth knowledge.
Chef Christian Sia has definitely noticed the incorporation of more purple vegetables in the culinary scene and he uses them himself. “I like dishes that are out of the ordinary,” he says, “so I might make a veggie sauce and change up the spectrum, perhaps by making a purple ketchup. Because that’s not what you perceive ketchup to be, the dish automatically becomes more interesting and guest interact with that.”
Christian first became intrigued with purple vegetables from an aesthetic point of view, but then he conducted research on their nutritional value – and what he found also plays an important factor in his continuing use of them.
His favorite vegetables in this hue include purple potatoes and carrots. “When we can change the mindsets of our guests,” he says, “by, for example, using purple ketchup in a dish, we are making them aware of the larger food spectrum. As chefs discover new products and techniques, we are finding new ways to evolve the culinary industry, and we are challenging our guests to change their perceptions of what food really is.”
He also enjoys using edible flowers in his dishes, and ones in the purple color spectrum “really make them pop.”
Chef Ricardo Chaneton loves to experiment with monochromatic dishes and dishes that contrast colors. And, he points out that techniques used affect how that plays out in their ultimate presentation. “Take the purple eggplant,” he says. “Depending upon the technique that I use, the purple may disappear and visually the dish becomes brown. So, it’s important to know your products well and to also know what techniques you plan to use if your goal is to keep colors such as purple in your end products. Also, as you play with textures, you are also playing with the colors.”
Purple foods used by Ricardo include eggplant, cabbage and edible flowers, including purple sweet potato leaves. When choosing flowers to pair with a dish, he says it’s crucial to “respect each ingredient.” The flavor of the flower matters, but so does the color. “I marinate violet-colored flowers,” he says, “that add aromatic sweetness to foie gras. Plus, the flowers add sweetness, psychologically, as well.”
Before Ricardo worked in Hong Kong, he worked at a restaurant in France, one that had an outdoor garden where he could get fresh ingredients for his dishes. “Now,” he says, “The Chef’s Garden is my garden. They have amazing varieties of products, with really good quality and logistics.”
If you’re ready to incorporate them into your menus throughout 2017 and beyond, consider this purple foods list:
Broccoli purple florets
Mixed purple carrots
Purple rain carrots
Purple Carmellini® beans
Purple French beans
Purple leaved spinach
Purple majesty potatoes
Purple sweet potatoes
Purple mizuna mustard
Purple ninja radish
Purple pea blossoms
Purple snow peas
Purple sweet potato leaves
Royal purple turnip
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