Finally! Kale has been kicked the curb. Well, in all actuality, kale is still very present on most menus, especially the salad section. However, much like a flash-in-the-pan popstar, something needs to leave the limelight and make room for something new. Enter the cauliflower.
The cauliflower you’ll find presented at restaurants these days are a far cry from what most of us would remember from childhood. Blanched or steamed to limp nothingness and then covered in a cheese sauce…Cheese Whiz if you were a really lucky kid.
These days, this piece of produce is served up a million different ways. Sauteed, pureed, roasted, fried, made into pizza crust…Hell, I’ve even seen it sliced up and roasted in a lamb’s skull at a pop-up restaurant in Calgary…clearly for the shock value.
Anyway, here are 10 different restaurants from coast-to-coast that are cooking up the hearty vegetable in cool innovative ways.
Since it’s now officially fall, soup is welcomed addition to the dinner table. Try this silky smooth and creamy cauliflower soup from Top Chef Canada season three’s Geoff Rogers finished off with sweet raisin puree and an apple crumble. See, autumn ain’t so bad!
If you think ‘vegan’ translates to a big block of tofu sitting atop a flavourless rice pilaf, then allow Chef Lauren Marshall’s food to deliciously slap you in the face. The Top Chef Canada alumnus puts a unique spin on a pasta classic in Halifax using a cashew miso cream, blistered tomatoes, oven-roasted cauliflower and tempeh ‘ham’.
It’s not so much the doneness of vegetable itself that kicks this dish into overdrive, but the cilantro sauce, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, grilled halloumi cheese and creamy tahini that makes it pop. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a person who didn’t fall in love with this cauli-variation.
Everything tastes delicious when it’s in a taco shell, right? Caramelized cauliflower is served up with a rich, spicy chili sauce, pickled jalapenos and cilantro. Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, you’ll enjoy scarfing one of these little guys down.
Not particularly known for its quality culinary offerings, the diamond in the rough here would have to be buffalo-style cauliflower. Served with a ranch dressing for dipping too. Admittedly, it does sound a little strange when reading the description on the menu, but you probably are too.
I’ve always thought the most interesting thing about this nut-free, gluten-free and 100% organic eatery in Saskatoon is the fact that they can dish out food within those parameters without being too ‘hippie’ about it. The pakoras here are a combination of roasted cauliflower and zucchini, coated in a chickpea-based batter and served up with a green coriander chutney.
With several locations around Vancouver, Nuba is all about good, wholesome food. Keep it light at lunch with their take on cauliflower, cooked until slightly crispy tossed with lemon and sea salt for a bit of brightness with a healthy dose of tahini.
Truly a thing of beauty, this may not be the first time a person would gravitate towards when perusing a pub’s menu, but if this doesn’t hit your table then you’re really missing out. Served with warm pita bread, this mixture of chickpeas and roasted cauliflower is unexpectedly rich and filling and balanced out by the spoonful of sliced, curried pickled cauliflower on top.
This new eatery from the owners of Tres Carnales is focused on serving refined Mexican fare in a cool atmosphere. A little south-of-the-border flare adds depth to the vegetable, using a mix of chilies, cilantro, fresh lime juice and cumin.
Last, but not least, Calgary’s newest downtown restaurant opts for frying the florets of cauliflower and finishing them off by lining them up on a big smear of a bright, bold sauce made with garlic and harissa (a hot chili pepper paste).
Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.