The Many Colors of Cauliflower?>

The Many Colors of Cauliflower

by Erica Ilton, RDN, CDN  

White cauliflower is by far the predominant type of this cruciferous vegetable, but purple, orange, and green varieties also exist.

  • White cauliflower. In order to prevent the sun from turning white cauliflower yellow, farmers sometimes tie the biggest leaves over the head (also known as the “curd”) when it reaches the size of a tennis ball. Note that cooking white cauliflower in aluminum will cause it to turn yellow; cooking it in cast iron results in a brown or blue-green color.
  • Orange cauliflower. Also called Cheddar Cauliflower or Orange Bouquet Cauliflower, this variety owes its color to a genetic mutation that allows it to hold more beta carotene than its white counterpart.
  • Green cauliflower (broccoflower). This is a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower. One variant is shaped like regular cauliflower; the other (Romanesco) has pointed, conical spiraling clusters of florets. Green cauliflower has more beta carotene than white cauliflower but less than orange cauliflower and broccoli.
  • Purple cauliflower. This may be referred to as Sicilian Violet, Violet Queen, or Graffiti Cauliflower. Anthocyanins, the phytochemicals responsible for purple cauliflower’s vibrant hue, are also found in other red, blue, or purple fruits and vegetables, as well as in red wine.
  • Caulilini. This newly available cauliflower spinoff has long green stems and pale yellow to light green flowery florets. Good either raw or cooked, it is sweeter and even milder in flavor than regular cauliflower and takes on the flavors of what is added to it. The florets crisp up easily in the oven or cook quickly in a stir-fry. They can also be served grilled or steamed.

Updated February 2020.