Green vegetables are so ten minutes ago. Today’s diner is hoping for a plate with a bit more indigo hue-appeal. And while blueberry smoothies and purple potato salad have already made it into the social media hall of fame, a new veg is poised for a walk down the aubergine carpet. According to Adrienne Rose Johnson, writing in Bon Appetit, the growing popularity of all things purple comes down to a very simple explanation: “Talk to any farmer or retailer about purple and they all call out the same culprit: insta-types love the color. It looks beautiful on a plate. It’s newish. It may or may not be healthier, but it’s rarer and more expensive. Novelty, beauty, money—this is how a trend is born.”
Purple Brussels sprouts, available in baby and full-size varieties, are not only beautiful to look at, but they’re also a bit nuttier and sweeter than the green variety. They offer some health benefits that might make it to the fine print of your menu, since, like red wine, they contain anthocyanin flavonoids, like their other produce pals, they have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Appearing on a menu near you
They’re a veg option that’s turning up on fine dining menus and health-conscious locations all over the country. At Chicago’s Smyth, purple Brussels sprouts make an appearance paired with beef tongue as an entrée. At Mav Soho at Hotel Hugo in New York, they’re served as a side with cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper). At Wally’s Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, maple-roasted purple Brussels sprouts and parsnips purée accompany monkfish medallions. And at Love Lane Kitchen on Long Island, the sprouts are part of a popular pasta dish that combines them with rigatoni, prosciutto, cherry tomatoes, red pepper flakes, rosemary, garlic, parsley and lemon.
How to prepare
Because they’re packed more loosely than traditional green Brussels sprouts, these purple ones can be an excellent raw toss-in for winter greens salads and root vegetable sides. They do well with slow roasting, braising or sautéing, too.
They’ll soak up just about whatever flavor you throw at them, and they’ll shine with herbs and flavorings including garlic, sage, shallots, thyme, rosemary and mustard. For heartier meals, pair them with richer ingredients like bacon, pancetta, pork belly, cheese, cream, duck fat, eggs, ham and hollandaise. Or brighten them with acids like lemon, grapefruit, cider vinegar and lemon.
Chef Catherine Brown suggests lightly steaming purple Brussels sprouts before pairing them with rice in her Black Rice and Purple Brussels Sprout Salad. The steaming method preserves the purple color but makes the baby cabbages more digestible.
If it seems as if your winter specials are beginning to look a bit, well, beige, then purple Brussels sprouts might be just the ticket for your next plant-forward special. Just get ready for a lot of flashing cameras when those rainbow plates are served.
Try these Marzetti recipes with purple Brussels sprouts