Here are our 5 favourite purple veg this winter.
Why purple? Purple vegetables are high in a pigment called anthocyanin which is responsible for the colour of blueberries, purple and red grapes and red cabbage.
It’s an antioxidant that appears to have a number of health benefits, such as improves memory, eyesight, protect against heart attacks and are anti-inflammatory.
These easy-to-grow veg do best in a sunny position in well-drained, moist soil that has been enriched with well-rotted manure. The leafy Brassicas appreciate
some nitrogen so are good grown where beans or peas last grew and generously added nitrogen to the soil. Add a couple of handfuls of blood and bone
to the soil and compost before planting.
1. Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Brassica oleracea var italica
Sprouting broccoli, either green or purple is sweeter and more generous than the regular broccoli. Sprouting broccolis develop 30-50 sprouts over a long
period, instead of a single head that you may have trouble eating in one sitting. The flavour is good and the stems are particularly delicious. Once
it has been cut, the sugars in the stem revert to starch, so the broccoli you grow yourself and cook within an hour of harvest will far exceed anything
you can buy in the shops. Don’t allow the head to burst into flower before picking. Plant a few in March, again in April, a few more in May and again
in June for a trickle of delicious sprouting broccoli into the kitchen throughout winter and spring. To cook, steam, or boil in about centimetre of
lightly salted water for three minutes. Plants grow 1m x 1m - don't overcrowd them.
Smaller heads of the purple sprouting broccoli produce more per plant. Photo - photolibrary.com
2. Purple Carrots, Daucus carota
Carrots come in many colours, the most exciting is purple which actually have orange inside. Why grow orange carrots when it's just as easy to sow
other colours you'll have trouble buying. Soil preparation is the same for any carrrot, they needs a sandy, moist, lump free soil bed
to grow successfully. We like to sieve the soil before sowing seed, keep the soil moist during germination (every morning watering) and keep an
eye on your growing diary - they'll take 55 days from sow to pick.
Where can I buy seeds of purple carrots?
Purple carrots are called ‘Purple Dragon’ or ‘Purple Haze’ and are available from Diggers and Eden Seeds. They are the quickest growing carrot with
a purple skin and orange-yellow core. Retail: $3.95. Or buys them in punnets under the 'Super Food' label.
Carrots in all colours.
3. Purple Kale
Purple kale can be panfried, whizzed up in a smoothie or chopped up and thrown into a heartwarming winter veg soup. They are one of the world's most
nutritious vegetables that happen to be very easy to grow throughout Australia.
4. Purple Garlic, Allium sativum
Garlic helps ease cold symptoms, and also has antiviral and antibacterial properties. With good does of Vitamin C and B6 and high levels of iodine,
they are best planted at Easter and harvest before the summer. Plant as many as you need for a years supply.
Break open cloves and plant individually. Photo - sarsmis/Shutterstock.com
5. Purple Cauliflower
Cauliflower are available in a few colours apart from traditional white. Purple varieties include 'Graffiti' and 'Purple Cape'. Treat them the same
way you would white cauliflower, watching out for white butterfly and pegging the large leaves over the top of the developing head to protect the
curd from sun damage. Seeds are available from Diggers Club.
Purple cauliflower, full of vitamins. Photo - photolibrary.com
Anchovy and chilli dressing
This recipe, from River Cottage, is a great sauce for broccoli, cauliflower or kale. Add hot, drained pasta to broccoli and sauce to turn a side dish into
a meal. Leftover dressing keeps well in the fridge; it’s good spread on toast and topped with scrambled eggs.
What you need:
50g anchovy fillets, drained
150ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
leaves from a sprig of thyme
a few basil leaves
1/2 small red chilli, or a pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
a few twists of black pepper
Blend all the ingredients for the dressing in a liquidiser until completely smooth. Alternatively, if you are using fresh chilli, you can leave it out
of the liquidiser and chop it very finely by hand, then stir it into the dressing. This gives it a little texture, and nice flecks of red.
Warm the sauce over a low heat, whisking in a knob of soft butter as it heats up. This should help to emulsify it but don’t worry if it separates a bit;
it’ll still taste fine.
A winter must - make room for a least one purple sprouting broccoli. Photo - Marbury/Shutterstock.com
Text: Linda Ross