Purple Pansy Salad Rolls and The Magic of Purple
Purple is a special color indeed. It’s associated with both spirituality and royalty. It brings to mind luxury, magic, and wisdom. The passion and energy of red combine with the calming gentleness of blue to create a color that inspires self-awareness. The traits associated with purple are sensitivity, compassion, and intuition. It’s no wonder that purple foods in particular are associated with magic, as they carry a magic of their own…
I’m talking about anthocyanins, the particular kind of pigments found in most naturally-occurring purple foods. These pigments are responsible for color-changing properties of acidic fermentation turning a purple cabbage into bright pink kraut; of making blue mashed potatoes vibrantly purple with a little salad dressing; even of a splash of lemon juice turning sky-blue violet syrup an electrifying shade of magenta. They are also responsible for added health benefits in purple vegetables and fruits.
These water-soluble pigments can appear red, purple, blue, or black. Their name comes from the Greek words for both “flower” and “dark blue,” which is appropriate considering two of my favorite sources are wild violets and blueberries! Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid, which are a powerful family of antioxidants. There are many studies that show they are helpful in a wide variety of ways in the body, including boosting cognitive function by fighting oxidative damage, reducing the risk of many types of cancer, lowering both cholesterol and blood pressure and thereby reducing the risk of heart disease, and even protecting your eyesight!
Speaking of, anthocyanins are easy to spot in plants because they appear as all the colors between red and blue on the color spectrum. Think purple sweet potatoes, black carrots, red lettuce, lavender cauliflower, blue violets and pansies, deep blue potatoes, and pretty much all the berries. They can also be found in many foods that appear black, such as “forbidden” black rice, dark kale, deep brown tomatoes, and even blue corn. If you’re looking to add a boost of purple power to your diet, look to the bright violets in produce aisles and farmers’ markets (or forage your own purple spring blossoms!) It’s practically scientifically proven that fairies of all ages are FAR more likely to gobble up a platter of all-purple salad rolls much more readily than other, less vibrant offerings.
Violet Salad Rolls:
These delicious and healthy treats are jam-packed with the magic of purple vegetables. A variety of flavors and textures keeps them interesting; sour-sweet cabbage slaw, crunchy sprouts, creamy avocado, soft and fluffy sweet potatoes, and crisp carrots keeps them dynamic while fresh violets and pansies dress them up to be worthy of any fairy gathering. To make them even more delightful, serve them with the purple velvet dipping sauce below!
Makes about 12.
2 c. finely sliced red cabbage
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c. currants
4-5 finely sliced purple carrots
1 medium purple sweet potato
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 ripe avocado
1 c. sprouts
2 c. wild greens (I used dandelion and mallow)
About 12 rice paper sheets for making salad rolls
Fresh violets and pansies, about 5 per roll
Combine the cabbage, lemon juice, salt, and currants in a medium bowl. Knead for about 2 minutes to soften the cabbage, then let sit while you prepare the rest of the components.
Preheat oven to 400F. Meanwhile, peel the purple sweet potato and cut into small slices. Toss in oil and sprinkle with salt and spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Roast the sweet potatoes at 400F for 10-15 minutes or until tender.
Slice the avocado into slices and cut the carrots into small matchsticks. Wash the wild greens and shake dry. Lay out all of the components, plus a plate to roll on and a shallow dish of warm water.
Place a rice paper sheet into the water and let soak until soft, about 40 seconds. Gently remove it and spread it on the plate. Add a little of each mixture (cabbage salad, purple carrots, sweet potatoes, sprouts, avocado, and wild greens), then fold up the ends to overlap the fillings slightly. Roll tightly one full rotation.
Stick a few edible flowers on the roll and finish rolling all the way to the end of the rice paper. The flowers should be underneath 1 layer of wrapper, sitting between the top layer and the second layer that holds in the filling.
Repeat the process until you run out of fillings, only soaking 1 wrapper at a time (soak 1 while you roll 1.) Keep the completed rolls under a damp towel to stay moist while you finish the rest of them. Serve fresh with purple velvet dipping sauce.
Purple Velvet Sauce:
This creamy vegan sauce is as beautiful as it is delicious! Fresh herbs give it flavor, while blueberries give it its lovely lavender hue (and a little added sweetness.) I like to forage staghorn sumac drupes for a local source of tartness, but lemon juice works just as well.
2/3 c. blueberries
1/2 c. cashew nuts, soaked for a few hours
1/2 c. basil and mint leaves (approx. equal proportion - use purple basil for even deeper color)
1 c. water
2 Tbs. sumac (can substitute 3 Tbs. lemon juice instead)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 Tbs. nutritional yeast
1 tbs. sriracha pepper sauce (optional)
Boil the water and add the sumac to infuse and let sit for about 20 minutes, then strain.
Add 1/2 c. sumac tea to a blender, along with all the other ingredients. Blend until smooth. Assess the flavor and consistency and add more sumac tea as needed to add slightly more tartness. If the mixture is tart enough but too thick, just add a little water and blend again until it reaches the consistency you like.
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