Monochromatic Palate Palette

Creating dishes using only one colour can be incredibly challenging, as flavours and textures have to work together while being constrained by their hues, but the end effect can be amazingly appealing to your diners. Just as a painter chooses their pigments and brushes carefully, so must you ensure that you do the same with ingredients if you decide to tackle this type of culinary adventure. There are ideas here for both adults and children (you never know when you’ll need creative ideas for an impromptu party or get-together), but be creative, and try out different flavour combinations to see which work best for you.

White

 

White Pizza

Photo by Roger Penguino

Long associated with purity and simplicity, a white-hued meal can be incredibly elegant, or indulgently childlike.

  • Pizza with  artichoke hearts, onion, and chevre
  • Pasta with a garlic cream sauce and white asparagus tips
  • Risotto with button mushrooms and Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Lemon sorbet with vanilla wafers
Children’s menu:
  • Chicken strips with yogurt or Caesar dipping sauce
  • Roasted cauliflower bites
  • Cheese-filled ravioli in a cream sauce
  • Mashed potatoes with white gravy
  • Vanilla ice cream

Red

 

Borscht

Photo by Appaloosa

Vibrant and passionate, this is the ultimate colour profile for Valentine’s or anniversary dinners.

  • Borscht made with beets, red onions, and red cabbage
  • Grilled ruby grapefruit salad with fennel and red apples
  • Red quinoa with spicy tomato-herb sauce and pimentos
  • Khoresht anar aveej: Persian chicken dish made with pomegranate juice
  • Red velvet cake, Cabernet Sauvignon ice
Children’s Menu:
  • Bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes
  • Tomato soup and grilled cheese (made with sun-dried tomato focaccia bread)
  • Cherry or strawberry tarts

Orange

 

Persimmon

Photo by Chotda

Another vibrant hue, evocative of sunsets and sunrises. This is one that works as well for summer evenings as it does for chilly autumn afternoons.

  • Baked orange peppers stuffed with a squash, rice, and chanterelle mixture
  • Curried pumpkin soup with spiced croutons
  • Squash-filled ravioli in onion-chicken broth
  • Peach cobbler with ginger ice cream
  • Slices of persimmon, cantaloupe, papaya, and passion fruit
Children’s menu:
  • Sweet potato fries with aioli
  • Sliced raw orange peppers and baby carrots
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Orange sorbet, or creamsicles

Yellow

 

Pineapple

Photo by Darwin Bell

Bright and sunny, a dish of yellow foods evokes joy and lightheartedness.

  • Yellow heirloom tomato salad with julienned yellow peppers
  • Fried stuffed squash blossoms filled with herbed ricotta
  • Curried cauliflower and chick peas (with plenty of turmeric) over saffron rice
  • Mango sorbet, lemon meringue tartlets
Children’s menu:
  • Honey-glazed chicken or pork bites
  • Pineapple fried rice
  • Corn on the cob
  • French vanilla ice cream

Green

 

Green Beans

Photo by Chiot’s Run

Lush and vibrant, green dishes are always associated with health, well-being, and the bright freshness of summer produce.

  • Mixed green salad with avocado, snow peas, sunflower sprouts, and fresh herb dressing
  • Lightly-cooked haricots verts
  • Roasted asparagus spears drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt
  • Raw zucchini “noodles” with basil pesto, wilted spinach, and sauteed green peppers
  • Pistachio ice cream
Children’s menu:
  • Crudites of green peppers, broccoli, and snow peas with an herbed dip
  • Spinach and cheese tortellini in parsley cream sauce
  • Green tea mochi cakes or mint chocolate ice cream

Blue

 

Blue Potatoes

Photo by Sherm

Blue is one of the most rare hues found in the natural world, so any blue food would be unique and rather delightful to dig into.

  • Roasted blue potatoes with fresh herbs
  • Salad of edible flowers: borage, pansies, and blue violas with blue kale and an herb dressing
  • Barley risotto with blue cheese and blue cauliflower
  • Wild boar or venison sausage with blueberries
  • Blue-tinted cassis macarons

Children’s menu:

  • Celery “boats” filled with blue-tinted cream cheese and garnished with chive flowers
  • Gnocchi (made with blue potatoes) with sour cream and chives
  • Blue corn tortilla wraps or arepas, with black bean mash, cheese, and purple tomatoes
  • Blueberry pie

Pink

 

Pink Macarons

Photo by Zylenia

The ultimate “girly” colour, pink is a sweet shade to play with when designing a menu for a bridal or baby shower, quinceañera, mother’s day, or even a little girl’s birthday celebration.

  • Roasted beet and feta gratin with fresh herbs
  • Toast rounds with watermelon radish slices
  • Pink miniature potato latkes topped with sour cream and smoked salmon
  • Beet-tinted angelhair pasta in rose sauce, with shrimp and crab
  • Grilled salmon in a wine sauce sprinkled with pink Himalayan mountain salt
  • Roasted strawberry ice cream, raspberry trifle

Children’s menu

  • Shrimp cocktail with spicy dipping sauce
  • Salad made with cabbage, apples, Asian pears, and pickled beets
  • Sliced ham with cherry glaze, bow tie pasta with peas in rose sauce
  • Strawberry cupcakes, or pink macarons, and a strawberry milkshake

Purple

 

Purple Cauliflower

Photo by Masha

Regal and rare, purple (and its cousins indigo and violet) were colours reserved for royalty since the time of the roman emperors. Like blue, it’s an extremely rare colour in nature, and a meal in these hues would be fit for Caesar himself.

  • Figs stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with wildflower honey
  • Assorted kalamata and nicoise olives
  • Purple potato tarte tatin
  • Purple cabbage salad with chive and thyme flowers
  • Grilled flank steak with purple potatoes
  • Petit-fours with candied violets
Children’s menu:
  • Twice-roasted purple “smashed” potatoes
  • Purple carrot Tunisian salad with raisins
  • Purple cauliflower gratin
  • Blackberries with cream

Brown

 

Stew

Photo by Michelle Suzanne

Earthy and warm, brown dishes are reminiscent of home, hearth, and all things comforting. From potatoes and other tubers to root vegetables, meats, nuts, and grains, there’s a wealth of hues available to play with in this spectrum.

  • Roasted chestnuts with black pepper honey
  • Elk and wild mushroom ragout over whole wheat pappardelle pasta
  • Cornish hen filled with herbed, nut, and mushroom stuffing
  • Roasted root vegetables: onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, turnips, and parsnips with olive oil and herbs
  • Nut cake with fig preserves
  • Chocolate mocha torte

Children’s menu:

  • Tempeh satay skewers
  • Savoury stuffed mushroom caps
  • Breaded cutlets (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, or tofu) with gnocchi in butter sauce, sprinkled with bacon (optional)
  • Triple chocolate cookies, chocolate ice cream, maple fudge

Black

 

Black Rice

Photo by Dennis

Dark and indulgent, black is the ultimate shade for Halloween-themed foods, or entertaining the Gothic set. If you’re settling in for a night of Vampire role-playing, or want to celebrate the dark of the moon, play with this menu palette.

  • Blini with beluga caviar or black olive tapenade
  • Wild rice salad with nuts and herbs
  • Black sesame-crusted pork
  • Miso-glazed black cod
  • Squid ink pasta with wilted black Tuscan kale
  • Black vodka martinis
  • Blackberry

Children’s Menu:

  • Black quinoa salad with walnuts, apples, dried cherries, and feta
  • Black bean burritos in blue corn tortilla wraps
  • Black rice pudding
  • Treacle tart or black sticky gingerbread

 

- Lana Winter-Hébert

Lana Winter-Hébert fell in love with cooking while still in primary school. The various dietary needs of her extended family (i.e. gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, and paleo diets) have helped her to learn a fair bit about substitutions and meal plan modifications, and though her first love will always be the Scandinavian/Eastern European cuisine she grew up with, she has a penchant for Mexican food and can be bribed heartily with the offer of good huevos rancheros. Lana currently resides in rural Quebec with her husband and family, where she divides her time between writing, editing, design, and tending her permaculture garden. She cans and preserves whatever's in season, and is having some fantastic adventures with home cheese-making and mead-brewing.

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