I made a purple dinner. Why not?
When we were growing up, my mum always told us that our dinner plates should include different colours of food, which is sensible advice from a nutritional perspective. Sorry mum, I’m breaking all the rules here!
I have a theory that food serves more purposes than as fuel for our bodies. Food brings people together, it can be a sensory experience, a way to help celebrate, to nourish us when we need it, and sometimes just for fun. So, why not enjoy some fun food together?
The first time we made a monochrome menu was a few years ago, when we successfully grew purple carrots in our small vegetable patch and needed a suitable celebration. I was also inspired by a family member who once cooked an entirely blue dinner for his housemates. I have to say I prefer purple: it is a slightly more appetizing colour for food than blue.
When you think about it, there are a lot of naturally purple foods. Think of the more common foods like beetroot, red cabbage or radicchio lettuce, then the more unusual varieties like purple carrots, purple potatoes or beans. Add to that the purple you get when you mix red and blue berries. All of this means that I didn’t need food colouring – I only used it for the white chocolate curls on top of the dessert.
What was in my purple dinner? Here’s the menu:
- Pork medallions with an apple and beetroot sauce
- Purple potato mash
- Purple carrots roasted with sumac
- A salad of radicchio lettuce, purple carrot, red cabbage and roasted beetroot, with a pomegranate molasses dressing
- Crispy red onion and purple sage sprinkles
- For dessert, chocolate and mixed berry chia puddings
Here are my recipe ideas and instructions for making each of these purple parts:
I sliced medallions from a larger piece of pork and marinated the pieces overnight in a red wine, sage, mustard and salt & pepper marinade, keeping some of this marinade mixture aside before using on the meat so as to add to the sauce later. The sauce was a mixture of one apple and one roasted beetroot blended together into a puree (delicious by itself), combined with the reserved marinade.
When it came time to cook, I heated the oven to a moderate temperature, seared the pork medallions on a medium hot fry pan for a few minutes each side, then placed them in an oven proof dish in the oven for 10 minutes. While they were in the oven, I deglazed the pan with a little apple cider vinegar, then lowered the heat of the pan and added the apple and beetroot puree, stirring until combined. When I removed the pork from the oven there were some juices in the dish which I added to the sauce.
I sliced the carrots in half lengthways and roasted them in a little olive oil with a sprinkle of sumac. Roast until they are soft and slightly browning on the edges.
If you find purple potatoes, you don’t need to do much to them to make them special. I boiled, drained and mashed them, only adding a little butter and salt before serving.
The base of the salad was the red Italian lettuce radicchio, which has a slightly bitter flavour, as does the shredded red cabbage. The other ingredients tried to balance that with some sweetness: raw purple carrot, diced roasted beetroot, and a sweet but tangy pomegranate molasses dressing made with ¼ cup rice bran oil, 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
We have purple sage growing in our garden, so I spread out a few leaves on an oiled tray in the oven with some thinly sliced red onion and roasted until they were all just a little crispy. I kept them on paper towel until ready to serve.
The dessert was a purple version of the chocolate and raspberry chia pudding from Maria Ushakova’s website here. I varied the original recipe by using white chocolate instead of dark, a mixture of almond milk and coconut water instead of coconut milk, added a little more maple syrup for extra sweetness, and I dyed my white chocolate with food colouring before allowing it to set and curling with a vegetable peeler. I actually made triple the amounts in this recipe (and added an extra tablespoon of chia seeds to each part to make sure it set) knowing the original amounts wouldn’t be quite enough for our hungry household. I’m glad I did.
This was an alternative dessert we tried the week before, just a bowl of red grapes with a layer of sweet red bean cream and purple coloured toffee shards.
I saw a similar combination of textures in a Vogue Entertaining magazine in the mid 1990s, using mascarpone cheese over the grapes. I highly recommend combining those textures of juicy grapes, a sweet creamy layer, and crunchy toffee. It did look pretty, too.
Have you ever made a meal in one colour?