But when we go down the rainbow route in our own Recipe Finder, we’ll be focusing on natural hues. Read on for some beautiful ways to build a colorful plate, and if you don’t see what you’re looking for here, make sure to take your own dive.
The color red is a vibrant, appealing and easily accessible option in peppers spicy and sweet, and in fruits such as apples and cranberries, an array of lettuces, tomatoes of all kinds and, somehow, a group of vegetables that really shouldn’t be called red at all but purple.
Radicchio and Red Grapefruit Salad, pictured. This pinky-red salad of winter produce belies its sweet appearance with an undercurrent of nuanced, balanced bitterness from the radicchio and grapefruit.
Romesco Sauce. Red bell peppers get blitzed up with tomatoes, almonds and a little bread, turning the bright red veggie a little more orange.
It’s ironic that one of the sunniest colors of all makes up so much winter produce! A wide array of squashes, roots such as carrots and sweet potatoes and, of course, oranges of all variations fall into this category.
Miso-Orange Glazed Carrots, pictured. Though carrots do, indeed, come in many hues, the version we see most often has that signature orange color. Harness it with this simple side dish.
Ember-Grilled Sweet Potatoes. Put the sweet potato directly into the grill, right on the coals. Use long-handled tongs and wear gloves. The outcome — ultra fluffy, smoky-sweetness — is absolutely worth it, plus there’s something gorgeous about bright, soft orange against the charred skin of the vegetable.
You’ll find bright, sweet yellow from all manner of fruits, from peaches to pineapples, to veggies such as corn, summer squash and even spaghetti squash.
Ah, green. Possibly the category with the biggest variety of veggies, from beans to peas to all manner of lettuces, and the most maligned. All too often we have heard of aversions to the color green in food, especially in childhood, though this group might even be the most versatile to cook!
Kale Pesto, pictured. If you’re looking for a less chewy way to enjoy kale, blitz it up into a pesto! Use on pasta or in a sandwich, or even in a grain bowl.
Rigatoni With Broccoli Lemon Sauce. You don’t have to like broccoli, but if you want to, this is a great recipe for getting there. Blend into a creamy and citrusy sauce.
Green Beans in Ginger Sauce. This recipe is so, so easy, and so good. All you need are six ingredients, including salt and a little bit of chicken stock or water.
There’s a reason blue isn’t often on your dinner plate — it’s not a particularly appetizing color. Blueberries, however, are the exception. Yes, they cook down to more purple hues, but for simplicity’s sake, this whole category will just be blueberries.
Blueberry Cornmeal Cake, pictured. This cake, studded with blueberries, is unbelievably tasty, with a crisp crust, tender middle and pops of juicy fruit. It’s not too sweet, which means it’s suitable as an addition to breakfast or as a snack.
Purple is a strange category, mostly because items with red in the name — cabbage, onions, grapes — veer far more into purple than red. Berries such as blackberries stain everything in deep, rich purple. And then, of course, there are purple potatoes, which fall solidly into a blue-purple category rather than red-purple.
Braised Red Cabbage Wedges, pictured. More like deep, jewel-purple. Cut a red cabbage into wedges, and let it braise until silky in a bit of cider and vinegar.
Grilled Eggplant Salad. Eggplant comes in many shades of purple from deep, jewel-rich and almost-black to much lighter with blushes of lilac. You’ll want slender, Asian varieties of eggplant for this particular salad.
Though technically not part of the rainbow per se, brown and white fall into a painter’s palette of color, so we won’t forget them here. As writer Carrie Dennett wrote for Washington Post Wellness in 2016, “pale vegetables offer a wealth of nutrients and phytonutrients, too.” While she follows this up with saying “a plateful of white vegetables might not be a feast for the eyes,” I disagree wholeheartedly: Golden hues that accrue when you cook mushrooms, cauliflower and more couldn’t be more delicious.