I love the color purple, in case you didn't already know. Ironically, I don't own many purple clothes or accessories, nor are my walls and living/working areas decked in swathes of purple. A fact that my family and friends should be eternally grateful for, I suppose. Still, there is this space within my psyche that's attracted to naturally purple-colored food. My heart skips a beat and my brain goes all fuzzy every time I come across a purple or lilac-hued fruit or vegetable. I fail to explain why, maybe it's just the way I'm wired.
Some of my favourites are purple sweet potatoes, yams, red cabbage (which isn't really red at all), eggplant, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, purple carrots, figs, pomegranate, plums and peppers. There are a myriad other purplies out there such as varieties of cauliflower, asparagus and endive, but I have yet to come across them. When I do, I'm sure I'll be doing my little dance of happiness and whipping out my recipe brainstormer machine (a.k.a. my crumbling, grey notebook)!
Blue and purple fruits and vegetables are very good for health, which is why I'm a incurable fan. They contain nutrients that support retinal health, lower bad (LDL) cholesterol, boost immune system activity, support healthy digestion, improve calcium and other mineral absorption, fight inflammation, reduce tumor growth, act as anticarcinogens in the digestive tract, and limit the activity of cancer cells. Wow, if only they can effect a sunny, sexy disposition and high cheekbones a la Julia Roberts too, I'd be one happy woman! ;-)
For all the other foods not fortunate enough to fall within this indigo-purple spectrum, there are ways and means of creating the illusion that they actually belong there. Take these healthy, organic Sōmen noodles, for instance. They weren't created purple, but an afternoon in my kitchen certainly changed that! The red cabbage was my accomplice in turning these thin, wheat strands from minimalist white to a sexy lilac. The makeover was worth it, do you not agree?
Noodles boiling in red cabbage water
Voilà! Purple Sōmen.
Originally I'd planned to use these perfectly round eggplants to showcase the purple noodles (the idea was to make the dish look seamless from top to bottom, which seemed chic at the time).
But I majorly forgot that when eggplants are roasted in the oven, they turn golden brown. Oh well, it was a good idea while it lasted. I promptly looked around for another suitable receptacle, and spotted two rather huge, canary-yellow capsicums staring back at me. They were perfect, because the yellow complemented the purple Sōmen really well, plus they retained their sunny color upon roasting.
Sōmen is traditionally eaten cold and dipped in clear soup or broth. However, for this purpose, I just drizzled olive and chive oils over the noodles and seasoned it with basil, garlic, shallots, sea salt and pepper, and they were good to go. The boiled cabbage (where we got all the lovely purple water from) was sliced very thinly and stirred into the noodles. Meanwhile, roasting the capsicum 'bowls' brought out their sweetness and they provided a lovely color and flavor contrast to the savoury purplies. Oh ok, the toasted black and white sesame seeds were only really there to lend some prettiness to the already good-looking dish, but bless them, they also contributed a subtle nutty taste to the whole dish. I couldn't have asked for more.
This kitchen experiment turned out really well, and my passion for purple continues. So, what's your favourite food color?
Purple Sōmen Noodles in Capsicum Bowl
¼ of a medium red cabbage, boiled in 3 cups of hot water
90g organic Sōmen noodles
2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
1 shallot, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, diced finely
2 large yellow capsicums, cut off tops and remove seeds
1 tablespoon chive oil
2 tablespoons soya sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/325F and roast the prepared capsicums for about 15-20 minutes, drain out the liquid that accumulates in the cups twice while roasting.
2. Slice cabbage into 2 chunky pieces and place in boiling water in a deep pan, let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. Drain the purple water into another pan and reserve the cooked cabbage for use as a garnish.
3. Place the Sōmen in the cabbage water and boil according to the instructions on the packet (I only needed to boil mine for 2 minutes). Stir with a fork gently to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Drain, rinse and wash briefly by hand with running cold water to remove starchiness and oil.
4. Place noodles into a bowl and add basil, shallots, garlic, chive oil and the boiled red cabbage which have been sliced thinly. Mix together gently. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Carefully arrange strands of Sōmen into the roasted capsicum bowls and drizzle over the soya sauce and olive oil over the top of the noodles. Sprinkle with the toasted sesame and serve with clear, hot soup.