Something surprising is climbing to the top of the gourmet-food pyramid. When Michelin-starred, tastemaking chefs like Wylie Dufresne and April Bloomfield get giddy about an ingredient—especially one that isn't carved off an animal—you know something is afoot. This season, humble cauliflower is being showcased in unexpected and delicious new ways by some of the country's top culinary minds. Fried, grilled, roasted, smoked, or seared, this hearty veggie is staking a claim as the other other white meat. And for those of you who just don't like that vegetable, see our roundup of the five best non-cauliflower veggie sandwiches of the moment and the crazy flavor of the moment.
Where to Get Mouthwatering Cauliflower Dishes
New York City
At their self-proclaimed inauthentic taqueria in Murray Hill, Roberto Santibañez and April Bloomfield serve the vegetable roasted and stuffed inside a tortilla with curried crema and fried curry leaves (pictured at top).
Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski—who bring a dim sum approach to adventurous American fare—coat cauliflower in dark-rye and caraway bread crumbs and then pan-fry it and serve it with a horseradish-ale cream.
"It's incredibly versatile," says chef Jason Neroni of the vegetable that he carves like a T-bone before it is seared until crispy and caramelized and served with olive-and-orange pistou.
At the second D.C. home of Ashok Bajaj's modern Indian eatery, a crunchy, spicy pile of deep-fried florets are dipped in cornstarch-and-chili batter and tossed with mustard seeds, green chilies, and curry leaves.
New York City
Wylie Dufresne, who says the veggie is a staple at staff meals, was sure to put it on the menu of his recently opened East Village gastropub. The cauliflower is fried until golden brown, draped with an unctuous piece of lardo, and sprinkled with cocoa nibs.
At his new 115-seat restaurant, Iron Chef winner Vitaly Paley roasts cauliflower over a wood-fired grill, then marries it with a hearty chickpea stew finished with fire-roasted mushrooms and braised kale—and a soft-cooked sous-vide egg for good measure.
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Where to Get Mouthwatering Cauliflower Sandwiches
Behind a glowing "Au" neon sign is the newest San Francisco treat: a cauliflower-curry salad with raisins and cilantro served on a poppy-seed roll.
This suburban-Chicago bistro's new thick, browned cauliflower sandwich on multigrain comes with curry aïoli and melted Cheddar.
A baguette of roasted cauliflower and broccoli at this Portland, Oregon, eatery is stuffed with onions, olives, Cheddar, and mascarpone.
The cauliflower a la plancha comes paired with golden raisins, pine nuts, and baby spinach atop pizza bianca at this New York City gastrobar.
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5 Insanely Delicious Veggie Sandwiches That Aren't Made with Cauliflower
Served on a hoagie roll with smoked slaw, cilantro vinaigrette and housemade pickles, the perennial favorite at Charleston-based sandwich shop Butcher & Bee is the vegetarian's answer to southern BBQ.
At least one burger is meatless bliss: James Beard winner Spike Gjerde's mushroom patty at Artifact Coffee in Baltimore is bound with tofu and oats on a benne seed bun with sauteed onions and greens.
Egg salad gets an upgrade at Indianapolis bakery Bluebeard, with capers, pickled red onion, greens, goat cheese, and traditional hot dip bagna cuda.
Memphis' meat-centric Hog & Hominy gets equal love for the fried chickpea fritter on a toasted hoagie with a smoked eggplant puree, topped with a balsamic reduction and quick-pickled vegetables.
The California Maria di Salvio's popular Charlie's Pantry, features a very Left Coast-centric mix of fresh heirloom tomato, avocado, red onion, daikon sprouts, hummus, and tzatziki on a choice of seven house-made breads.
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The Flavor of the Moment: Veggie Ash
Chefs across the country have started to char veggies into oblivion and use the sweet, smoky ash to season dishes. In San Francisco, Fifth Floor coats its wagyu steak in onion ash and venison in beet ash. Area 31, in downtown Miami, garnishes its seared scallop dish with ash made from leeks. And Atlanta-based Restaurant Eugene chars carrots for 15 hours before grinding them into ash for its beet salad.
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