Look! Purple and Orange Cauliflower

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Not like the others! Awe and lots of questions yesterday hit Samacott Orchard's stand at the Daj Hammarskjod Plaza Greenmarket here in NYC. This purple and orange cauliflower and light green broccoli Romanesco got all the attention yesterday.

"Are they dyed?"

"Could I use these for a veggie dip tray?"

"Kinda creepy. Good for Halloween, I guess," we overheard.

We hit the excellent reference book Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini by Elizabeth Schneider for some ideas, but we still need your help.

Schneider explains that "the whiteness of the flowery fleece, usually called 'curd,' may also be yellow, orange, pinkish, green, or purple depending upon the variety, the growing area, climate and regional preferences." The book explains that growing white cauliflower is backbreaking work: "the nest of dusky green leaves is tied in a loose bundle around the budding new head, which continues to grow until harvest." The leaves shield the cauliflower's curd and keep the vegetable white.

Chowhound's boards discuss the challenge of cooking with un-white cauliflower. The intense color fades when boiled or roasted.

We want to experiment and come up with some special, Fall Colors style recipes for these "pretty but puzzling" cauliflower. Schneider's book suggests microwaving without additional water to keep these beauties bright.

Do you have any other suggestions? If you can't wait for us to develop a recipe, here's one from Tigers and Strawberries.

But where does that purple come from? The cauliflower's purple color comes from the antioxidant group anthocyanin, which can also be found in red cabbage.