Looking for purple vegetables to transform your garden and get your daily dose of nutrients? Many of us know that the easiest way to meet our daily quota of vitamins and minerals is to eat fruit and vegetables of every color of the rainbow.
Colors like green, yellow, orange, and even red are easy to fit into your day-to-day diet. But colors like purple might have you stumped for ideas!
A rainbow-filled plate isn’t just pretty to look at. Purple foods contain high levels of antioxidants — most of these antioxidants belong to the anthocyanin group — that can boost overall health and may even prevent some diseases.
There actually are far more purple veggies than you might realize. Who knows… you may even learn that you have several types of purple vegetables in your fridge or pantry right now!
- Purple Yam
- Red Leaf Lettuce
- Purple-Podded Pea
- Globe Eggplant
- Red Cabbage
- Purple Kohlrabi
- Cherokee Purple Tomato
- Purple Potato
- Purple Okra
- Curly Kale
- Swiss Chard
- Graffiti Eggplant
- Purple Cauliflower
- Purple Corn
- Hardneck Garlic
- Bell Pepper
- Red Onion
- Indigo Rose Tomato
- Purple Basil
- Purple Tiger Chili Pepper
- Chinese Eggplant
29 Purple Vegetables To Grow For A Prismatic Garden
1. Purple Yam (Dioscorea alata)
Purple yams, also known as ube, are a delicious tuber originally cultivated in the Philippines and throughout Southeast Asia. This colorful veggie has quickly gained popularity around the world in recent years.
Unlike many other purple vegetables, these yams are more vibrant on the inside than the outside. Underneath the gray-tinted skin is a shockingly purple interior!
You can use purple yams in a variety of dishes, from entrees to desserts.
2. Red Leaf Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)
You might think that purple-leafed lettuce would be something exotic and rare. But you may have some of this greenery in your fridge right now.
As the name implies, red leaf lettuce encompasses a variety of shades. However, a large number of the varieties sold under the “red leaf” umbrella are far more purple than red!
3. Purple-Podded Pea (Pisum sativum)
There are actually a number of purple-podded peas out there, though you’re unlikely to find these colorful veggies in your local supermarket. Instead, purple peas tend to be heirloom varieties cultivated by home gardeners.
Most — if not all — of these are only purple on the surface. The edible peas contained within each pod are the standard shade of green.
4. Globe Eggplant (Solanum melongena)
Globe eggplants, aka American eggplants, are the variety most common in the Western world. And it wouldn’t be surprising if this was the first veggie to come to mind when it comes to the color purple!
The meaty texture and round shape of globe eggplants make them popular for grilling or use in dishes like eggplant Parmesan.
5. Red Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata f. rubra)
Cabbage is one of the few vegetables whose more vibrant version is just as popular as the normal green ones. Even though this veggie is known as red cabbage, there’s no denying that it leans more purple.
Some people think that red cabbage is a bit more peppery than green cabbage. Otherwise, the two can be used interchangeably in any salad, stew, or entree!
6. Purple Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes)
Purple kohlrabi is an interesting bulb-like vegetable that many people believe grows like turnips or radishes. Surprisingly, though, the bulbous stem of this plant grows above the ground.
Kohlrabi is related to cabbage, broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables, and can be used in a similar way. The bulb and leafy greens are edible, though this veggie is often sold with the greens removed.
7. Cherokee Purple Tomato (Solanum lycopersium ‘Cherokee Purple’)
While there are several tomato varieties that bridge the prismatic gap between red and purple, Cherokee Purple tomatoes are probably the most famous.
These vibrant tomatoes come from Tennessee and are thought to be an heirloom variety originally grown by the Cherokee tribe. The fruit itself is large with an earthy, acidic flavor.
8. Beet (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris)
Whether or not beets are truly purple could be up for debate. However, this red-tinged root vegetable is close enough to be worth mentioning.
The edible part of this plant may be known as a beet or, more specifically, a beetroot, depending on your location. Either way, this healthy veggie is full of important vitamins and minerals.
9. Purple Potato (Solanum tuberosum)
Purple potatoes are pretty much identical to their brown counterparts — at least in culinary terms. You won’t notice a difference in taste or texture when taking a bite of a purple potato.
The key difference between these and “normal” potatoes is that purple spuds contain high levels of antioxidants. So health-conscious chefs and gardeners might prefer purple varieties.
10. Daikon (Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus)
Daikon is incredibly popular in Asian cuisine — it is the most commonly eaten vegetable in Japan. While it looks like a thick carrot, a Daikon is actually a type of radish. Flavor-wise, most people compare this vegetable to a turnip.
Not all daikon roots are purple. Those that are purple-skinned still tend to have white or off-white centers.
11. Purple Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus)
Purple okra pods are just as edible as green ones. However, many gardeners prefer the aesthetic quality purple varieties bring to their landscapes.
Also of note is that purple okra does not retain its unique color when cooked. To many people’s dismay, the pods turn green when exposed to heat.
12. Curly Kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)
Both edible and ornamental kale come in a variety of colors. Purple- or red-hued kale is easily the most popular type — aside from green kale, of course — seen in gardens and grocery stores.
Like lettuce, kale is divided into nearly countless cultivars and varieties each with their own traits. A few purple varieties to keep an eye out for include ‘Redbor’ and ‘Scarlet.’
13. Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris)
Swiss chard might be the most colorful salad green found in the average produce department! This leafy vegetable comes in a variety of colors, including vibrant purple.
Swiss chard is closely related to beets but does not produce an edible root. If selecting Swiss chard for your garden, opt for a Rainbow variety for maximum color diversity!
14. Radicchio (Cichorium intybus var. foliosum)
Your first question about radicchio might be whether it is a type of cabbage or lettuce. Well, it’s actually neither!
Radicchio is an edible leafy vegetable that is a part of the chicory family. It is also commonly known as Italian chicory, largely because Italian cuisine is where the plant is most often utilized.
15. Graffiti Eggplant (Solanum melongena)
With distinct purple-and-white stripes, graffiti eggplant is one of the most aesthetically pleasing varieties of this garden vegetable. It is also commonly called Sicilian eggplant.
You can utilize this vegetable in any way you would use a globe eggplant (or other variety). Sadly, the beautiful striation fades away when this eggplant is cooked.
16. Turnip (Brassica rapa subsp. rapa)
Turnips are a staple in many veggie patches, especially in cooler climates. When harvested, most turnips have a gorgeous wash of purple across their bulbous roots.
If you’re looking to fill your garden with veggies to harvest in the fall and even into early winter, turnips are wonderful candidates!
17. Purple Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis)
Anyone who’s visited a farmer’s market in recent memory has likely stumbled across a head of purple cauliflower. Even some grocery stores are starting to carry these unique veggies.
Some fans of purple cauliflower even say it tastes better — rest assured, the flavor is still very similar to white cauliflower. Use the florets to add interesting color to a salad or yummy side dish.
18. Purple Corn (Zea mays)
Purple corn is just one example of the fascinating genetics contained within this staple crop. And, yes, many types of purple corn are 100% edible!
Older varieties of purple corn have been used in Peru for centuries, if not longer. Meanwhile, agriculture scientists are exploring ways that purple corn could help battle heart disease.
19. Hardneck Garlic (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon)
Most garlic is white. Sometimes, however, you’ll stumble across a bulb covered in purple or lavender skin. (The cloves inside are white, regardless.)
Purple-skinned garlic is an example of hardneck garlic. Hardneck garlic gets its name because the plant develops a woody flower stem at maturity.
Hardneck varieties have fewer (but larger) cloves, fare better in cool climates, and reportedly taste better than softneck varieties.
The reason white softneck garlic is more common in grocery stores is because it has a much longer shelf life than hardneck bulbs. Keep this in mind if you plan to grow garlic of your own this year!
20. Bell Pepper (Capsicum annuum)
Did you know that green, yellow, orange, and red are not the only colors bell peppers come in? While less common, pepper plants can also produce purple fruit.
One thing to keep in mind is that most purple bell peppers change to red or orange at maturity. However, the immature (and still purple) fruit can still be harvested early if you want to show off the unique hue in your next salad or dinner entree!
21. Red Onion (Allium cepa)
Despite the fact that most people refer to them as red onions, these pomegranate-hued bulbs are undeniably purple.
There is one interesting theory for the seemingly color-blind naming of this vegetable: Historically, onion skins were commonly used to create vibrant red dyes for fabrics.
22. Indigo Rose Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum ‘Indigo Rose’)
Released in 2012, the Indigo Rose tomato is frequently lauded as the first truly purple tomato on the market. It is a variety of cherry tomato that produces tons of fruit per plant.
Interestingly, Indigo Rose tomatoes get their dark color from light exposure. Parts of the fruit that receive sun will turn purple while shaded areas will turn a deep red.
So be sure to choose a sunny location in your vegetable patch if you grow one of your own!
23. Carrot (Daucus carota)
Today, we associate carrots with the color orange. Yet there’s historical evidence that cultivated carrots were originally almost all purple — orange mutations didn’t take hold until the late-1500s.
There are many varieties of purple carrot growing around the world. Some purple carrots are uniform from skin to center. Others turn white as you cut deeper into the root.
24. Purple Basil (Ocimum basilicum var. purpurascens)
There are actually many varieties of basil. (Sweet basil is the variety most chefs are familiar with.) Purple basil is a somewhat rare variety identified almost exclusively by its foliage color.
Since purple basil tends to go bitter when cooked, it’s most popular in salads and as a garnish. You can also use this basil for a surprising twist on a classic green pesto!
25. Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
Asparagus can be green, white, or purple — the latter being much less common than the other two. Purple asparagus is known for being milder and sweeter than green asparagus.
White asparagus is grown by covering the plant in mulch or dirt so that it does not produce chlorophyll. Meanwhile, purple asparagus is a distinct variety that is grown just like green asparagus.
26. Purple Tiger Chili Pepper (Capsicum annuum ‘Purple Tiger’)
For spice lovers, purple bell peppers just won’t cut it. Fortunately, you can turn to the Purple Tiger chili pepper for culinary heat with a pop of color.
Purple Tiger peppers are grown ornamentally just as often as they are grown for food. The fruit transitions from green to purple to red as it matures. Often, a plant will have three different colors of pepper on display at one time.
27. Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus)
Most artichokes are green with or without purple-stained leaves. There are also several wild and cultivated varieties that are almost entirely purple.
As a rule, purple artichokes taste almost identical to green ones. You can cook purple artichokes just as you would another other. Consider reaching for recipes that let you show off the unique color instead of only utilizing the heart.
If you’re searching for a variety to grow in your vegetable garden this season, the Purple Italian globe artichoke is a popular choice.
28. Chinese Eggplant (Solanum melongena)
Next to globe varieties, Chinese eggplant is probably the most well-known version of this purple vegetable.
Chinese eggplant looks much like the American eggplant but with one distinct difference: shape. This type of eggplant has been cultivated to be extremely long and slender rather than bulbous.
Chinese eggplants are a wonderful option for dishes that call for small slices of the vegetable. The long and narrow shape means these eggplants can be sliced just like a cucumber.
There are several varieties and hybrids that fall within the Chinese eggplant umbrella. While most share the distinct slender shape and purple coloring, some varieties boast unique shades of blue, lilac, and near-black.
29. Shallot (Allium cepa)
Shallots are bulb vegetables that can easily be mistaken for a clove of garlic once harvested. Botanically, however, shallots are categorized as a variety of onion.
Like hardneck garlic, shallots feature white interior cloves covered in a papery skin that typically ranges from ivory to violet.
In the kitchen, shallots offer a mild onion flavor. Shallots tend to be slightly sweet and are great in salads and other applications where a “regular” onion would be overpowering.