Roasted Purple Cauliflower and Arugula Salad

by Susan Russo
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purplecauliflowerA couple of years ago if someone told you that your blueberries were loaded with anthocyanins, you'd probably have dumped the bowl down the garbage disposal and called 911 to report being poisoned.

Anthocyanin sounds scary, kind of like cyanide. Fortunately it's a good word; "anthocyanin" is derived from two Greek words, "anthos " (flower) and "kyanos" (blue). It makes sense, therefore, that anthocyanin pigments are responsible for the blue, purple, and red color of many fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

When it comes to food, anthocyanins are little health workhorses. They're associated with a decreased risk of many illnesses including cancer, high blood pressure, and even Alzheimer's. Fruits and vegetables that are brightly colored are even better for you. That helps explains why pomegranates, blueberries, broccoli, and red grapes are on virtually every Top 10 Healthiest Foods list ever written.

 

purplecauliflower2Purple cauliflower, which is currently in season, owes its stunning color to anthocyanins. This cheeky variety, along with its cousins, orange and green cauliflower, have helped make cauliflower fashionable.

Use purple cauliflower in cooking as you would use white cauliflower. Steam, saute, bake, or roast it; just don't overcook it, or you'll risk mushiness. If you boil it, add a few drops of vinegar to the water to help maintain its vivid color. The texture is the same as white cauliflower although the flavor is slightly sweeter.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy purple cauliflower is in winter salads like this Roasted Purple Cauliflower and Arugula Salad. Roasted purple cauliflower and peppery arugula are dressed in a light and refreshing lemon-mustard-rosemary vinaigrette. The flavors match the vegetables' brilliant color making this a winter salad guaranteed to brighten any cold, gray day.


Roasted Purple Cauliflower and Arugula Salad
Makes 6 servings

1 medium head purple cauliflower, broken into florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
several shakes of salt and black pepper
6-7 ounces fresh arugula

Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons grainy/spicy mustard
1 teaspoon lemon zest (about half of 1 lemon)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place cauliflower in a large baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss until coated. Cook for 30 minutes, or until lightly brown and crisp.

2. Whisk all dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

3. Place arugula in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss. Add roasted cauliflower and toss. Serve warm.

 

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