Having long been the Michelle to broccoli’s Beyoncé, cauliflower has become the “it” vegetable of 2014. (Suck it, kale.) Here are five spins on the cruciferous crop.
Drake One Fifty’s roasted cauliflower with black truffles
At the Drake’s new financial district outpost, chef Ted Corrado does the veg two ways. “You get a silky and creamy purée on the bottom, and then on top it’s roasted for some bite and beefiness,” he says. The purée is made from cauliflower that’s been boiled in milk and onions, then blended with butter; the crispy florets are drizzled with truffle oil and roasted. Dehydrated grapes and pine-nut granola lend the dish some sweetness and crunch; black-garlic purée adds a smokiness; and black-truffle slices offer fragrance (and baller status).
$14. 150 York St., 416-363-6150.
Bannock’s warm cauliflower and white anchovy salad
“Everyone thinks you’ve gotta drown it in cheese sauce. But cauliflower is a blank slate, because it absorbs flavours well,” says Bannock chef Stephen Pynn. “You can roast it, sear it, serve it raw, shave it—it’s really versatile.” Pynn chooses the roasted route, slightly charring florets that have been tossed with onion, olive oil, and curry spice. They’re put on top of a bed of baby spinach leaves and bitter dandelion greens, then finished with white anchovies, rehydrated cranberries, fried capers, and a dusting of dukka, an Egyptian spice blend. “The cauliflower helps mellow out the stronger flavours, bringing a balance to everything.”
$13. 401 Bay St., 416-861-6996.
The Libertine’s tofu and cauliflower in vegetarian dashi broth
This speakeasy provides a comforting take on vegetable soup. Onions and leeks are sautéed until they’re golden brown, then porcini mushrooms, white wine, water, and ponzu are thrown in and simmered for an hour to release the mushrooms’ earthiness. Salt and soy sauce add more flavour, along with fried cubes of tofu and cauliflower, shallots, and nori. “The broth has a rich, almost meaty taste from the mushrooms. It’s hearty for winter without being super filling,” says chef Jordy Schuetze.
$11. 1307 Dundas St. W., 647-748-8288.
Pukka’s aloo gobi
The traditional cauliflower and potato curry is prepared northern Indian–style, which means it has less sauce and coconut than its southern counterpart. Chef Dinesh Butola blanches potatoes and cauliflower, and tosses them in a hot pan with a garam masala blend of cumin, coriander, bay leaves, and onion seeds. “A crazy amount of cauliflower grows in every corner of India,” says co-owner Harsh Chawla. “It’s one of the most used ingredients in the country.” In Butola’s hands, the vegetable is pleasantly spicy and tender, but retains a bit of crunch.
$7.20. 778 St. Clair Ave. W., 416-342-1906.
Home of the Brave’s buffalo cauliflower
“We wanted vegetarians to have our same over-the-top, American-style dishes, so we looked for something that played on chicken wings,” says chef Nate Middleton. “Cauliflower is a filling vegetable that fries up well, so it was a no-brainer.” Florets are double-breaded in a beer batter for an extra-crispy crust and served with house-made ranch dressing and the restaurant’s take on Frank’s Red Hot (with cayenne and heaps of butter for creaminess). The meaty little nuggets are essentially vehicles for the dips, but the veggie’s subtle sweetness is a step up from a chip.
$8. 589 King St. W., 416-366-2736.