Prepare to have a palate of rosy delicacies from nature tease your taste buds! In a world where greens and browns predominate, we frequently ignore the gorgeous range of naturally pink foods that not only catch the eye but also provide a burst of distinct flavors and health advantages. These bright foods, which range from juicy watermelon to vivid pink pitaya, are more than just eye-catching; they also serve as a reminder of the varied and nourishing resources found in nature. Come along with me as I take you on a tour around the fascinating world of naturally pink foods that enhance your plate with color while also adding to a complete and colorful culinary experience.
Pink Pearl Apples
While there may be countless varieties of apples with pink peels, there’s only one type of apple with pink flesh: pink pearl apples. Engineered in 1944 by apple breeder Albert Etter in Northern California, pink pearl apples are juicy, crunchy, and the perfect balance between sweet and tart. I love to eat them plain, but they make a beautiful addition to cheese plates and fruit salads.
Rhubarb is a leafy plant with deep pink stalks. You can eat the leaves and the stalks for different dishes. The leaves are nutritious, tasting wonderful in raw salads or sauteed with garlic. The deep pink stalks, however, are the star of the show. Rhubarb stalks are exceeding tart, so you usually boil them in water and sugar to create a fruity filling for pies. I love a classic strawberry rhubarb pie for some pink-on-pink action.
Also known as Italian Chicory, pink radicchio is a dark pink leaf vegetable with white veins. Texturally, its thickness is halfway between cabbage and lettuce. It has a slightly bitter flavor with a spicy bite. I enjoy mixing pink radicchio with mild lettuces like romaine and iceberg in a refreshing and colorful green salad with blood orange vinaigrette.
A product of the American tropics, guavas are now a worldwide sensation, offering a gorgeous array of colors and a unique flavor. Guavas have green to yellow skins, opening into the firm, vibrantly colored flesh that ranges from baby pink to fuchsia. It’s at once sweet, sour, and incredibly pungent. I enjoy them as a snack, jelly, or tropical fruit salad.
Pink Oyster Mushroom
If ever there was a food that “tastes like chicken,” it’s an oyster mushroom. Pink Oyster mushrooms not only taste like chicken, but they look like it, too! These creamsicle-colored mushrooms have the meatiest flesh and rich, buttery, almost bacon-like flavor. If they weren’t so expensive, I’d eat them for every meal! I like to sauté them with a little olive oil with salt and pepper. They need no embellishment.
Once banned in the US, pink peppercorns are now a gourmet commodity, adding a pop of color and spice to any dish. Despite their name, they are berries that taste more like chilies than black pepper. When you bite into them, the initial flavor is sweet, like a berry. However, the sweet taste quickly transforms into a peppery explosion. I think their sweet and spicy flavor profile works well in curry paste.
Lilly Pilly Berries
Native to Australia and Southeast Asia, Lilly Pilly berries are bite-sized berries that grow on trees. They come in stunning hues that range from magenta to pinkish red, making for stunning additions to parks and yards. I’d liken their texture to cherries, with taught, edible skin and juicy innards that may or may not contain a pit. They have a spiced fruit flavor, with notes of cinnamon and clove.
Hidden Rose Apple
Move over pink pearl, there’s a new pink-fleshed apple in town. Hidden Rose Apples are a Pacific Northwest variety engineered by the Newell family. It has a thin, translucent green peel that almost looks pink due to the vibrance of its flesh. Hidden Rose apples are almost too beautiful to eat. I’ve never seen a more vibrant pink in nature. Their sweet-tart flavor is perfect for eating sliced.
Lychee is a delicious Southeast Asian fruit whose translucent white flesh tastes like a cross between a pear and a plum. It’s the size of a large grape with a giant seed you suck the flesh off of. Where’s the pink, you might ask? Lychees have a spikey dark pink shell that you might mistake for a tropical beetle if you don’t know any better. They are one of my favorite additives for fruit waters or smoothies.
Highland Burgundy Red Potato
There are hundreds of potato varieties ranging in color from white to purple. The Highland Burgundy Red Potatoes look like your average russet potato from the outside. However, once you cut through the thick brown skin, you’ll find marbled magenta, white, and light pink flesh. These potatoes are starchy and slightly sweet. Good luck finding them at a grocery store, though!
A historic sweet treat, Turkish Delights are essentially flavored jelly candy made from starch and sugar. They’ve been a delicacy in Turkey and Persia for over two centuries and come in numerous colors. One of the most popular flavors of Turkish Delights is rosewater, giving them a distinct baby pink color.
When I was first imagining naturally pink foods, beets popped into my head immediately. Perhaps from the countless time I’ve dyed my hands pink when peeling them. Beets are sweet root vegetables that taste as delicious raw as they do when cooked. I like to grate them into salads or roast them and serve them with cherry tomatoes and pistachios with lemon vinaigrette.
A popular delicacy in Mediterranean and Asian cuisines, octopuses, are fascinating, ancient mollusks with significance to ecosystems and cultures around the globe. Their eight legs and bodies are a pinkish orange that turns darker when cooked. They have a chewy texture, like squid, but are more flavorful and filling. If there’s a charred octopus on the menu, I’m likely to order it!
Ornamental Cabbage and Kale
Cabbage and kale are part of the same leafy family. Their firm, tough leaves provide a diversity of nutrients and a hearty texture to any stir-fry, sauté, salad, or soup. Ornamental cabbage and kale are less edible, proving tougher and/or less appetizing than their green counterparts. True to their name, they act as ornaments to decorate neutral-colored dishes.
Swiss Chard is a green leafy vegetable with deep pink stalks and veins. They have a mild flavor, like baby spinach or collard greens. I like them best sauteed with garlic or in an aromatic vegetable soup. Despite its name, Swiss Chard is a native Sicilian plant.
If you find rose petals sprinkled over your bed during your honeymoon or romantic getaway, collect them and throw them on your salad! Despite their traditional use as a romantic gesture or perfume ingredient, rose petals are also wonderful flavor agents. The first time I saw rose petals as an edible ingredient was in the utterly magical romance movie Like Water for Chocolate. Now I know that I can turn a bouquet of roses from my loved one into a delectable sauce over roast quail.
Also known as Pitaya, dragon fruit is a tropical fruit whose spiky pink peel resembles the scales of a dragon. They are large oval-shaped fruit with bright pink scales with yellow outlines. Their flesh is white with tiny black seeds. I just slice them in half and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, which tastes slightly sweet and has a texture similar to a kiwi.
A popular trend in fancy kitchens, Himalayan salt comes from the Pakistani Himalayas and has an orangish pink color. Nutritionally and flavor-wise, Himalayan salt is like regular table salt. It’s thus more of an aesthetic than a food. It sure looks pretty in a lovely glass grinder on the kitchen counter, though!
The most delicate and delicious of the forest berries, raspberries are always a special treat. Luckily, we don’t have to live in cold, forested climates to find them. We can get them in small, expensive plastic packages year-round for our parfaits, fruit salads, and compotes. I always buy two cartons because I know I’ll eat the first one in one go while I unpack my groceries.
Pink grapefruits originated in Barbados as a hybrid of an orange and a pomelo. It’s larger than an average orange with a tart, sweet flavor ending in a bitter aftertaste. Its flesh ranges from skin-tone pink to deep ruby. My favorite variety is the Texas-native ruby red, which is sweet, juicy, and devoid of bitterness.
Strawberry Ice Cream
By combining red and white, you get pink. A case in point is strawberry ice cream – one of the most popular flavors of ice cream! Red strawberries combine with cream to create a perfectly pink ice cream that’s as ubiquitous as vanilla or chocolate. I like serving strawberry ice cream with whipped cream and shortbread crumbles as a frozen take on strawberry shortcake.
Pink Banana Squash
A native of South America, banana squash looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Banana squash has a long, curved shape, like a banana with bright orange flesh. Its peel can be blue, orange, or pink. Their taste and texture are most like butternut squash, slightly starchy and sweet. I like to use them first as a fall table decoration and then as a roasted and mashed side dish.
There are thousands of species of shrimp inhabiting fresh and saltwater in every corner of the globe. They’ve been cherished food for humans since the dawn of civilization. Their bright pink tails are the perfect handle to hold while you take bites of its white and pink striped flesh. I’m partial to cold-boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce, but Mexican-style Campechanas come in a close second.
A Chinese variety of daikon, the watermelon radish is an heirloom that has a lime green exterior and a watermelon pink interior. They taste like your average radish, with a slightly peppery taste and a crunchy texture. They make a beautiful garnish for salads and soups. I like to add them to a giant bowl of pho along with bean sprouts and fresh jalapenos.
Cripps Pink Apple
Widely known by its commercial name, Pink Lady, Cripps Pink apples are one of the most popular and ubiquitous varieties in the US. They start out sweet and finish tart, with a juicy yet dense flesh compared to other varieties. True to their name, Cripps Pink apples have bright, shiny pink peels. They’re my favorite snacking apples.
Tuna encompasses 15 species of saltwater fish with blue and silver scales. Their deep pink raw flesh is a popular high-quality protein on sushi or sashimi in Japanese cuisine. In the States, we’re most used to canned tuna. There’s nothing tastier than tuna salad with chunks of canned tuna, mayo, hard-boiled eggs, celery, and chopped pickles.
Ham is the marbled pink meat from the leg of a pig. Every culture has a different dish dedicated to this savory and decadent cut of pork. The first thing that comes to mind is the roasted Christmas ham. Italian and Spanish cultures cure their ham, serving it as thinly sliced prosciutto or Jamon Iberico on pizzas or over melons.
Available only in the continental United States and Canada, Pinkglow Pineapples are an engineered cultivar with the standard yellow, scaled exterior and a bright pink flesh. It tastes as juicy, sweet, and acidic as its yellow-fleshed counterpart, but the pink flesh adds a wow factor. I like to use triangular pinkglow slices as garnishes for pina Coladas.