Like Cinderella, cauliflower has transformed into the belle of the ball. Once a bland side dish, it has recently taken its place at the center of the plate, thanks to creative chefs who recognize its versatility. These days you’ll find it fried like chips, stuffed in pasta, whipped into custard, and served as steak. Here are some of the most interesting and appealing, not to mention unusual delicious cauliflower dishes around.
Cauliflower Agnolotti, Glen Ellen Star, Glen Ellen, California
The menu at Glen Ellen Star changes every month or so in order to focus on what’s in season. Chef and owner Ari Weiswasser recently added cauliflower-stuffed pasta to the offerings as a vegetarian main course. A stunning dish, it’s served with salt-baked celery root and hedgehog mushrooms and topped with a hen egg. Make a reservation at Glen Ellen Star.
Cauliflower Stalks, Proof + Pantry, Dallas, Texas
Executive chef Julio Peraza takes the oft-neglected parts of the cauliflower and turns them into something special. The stalks and florets are caramelized, and then the brilliantly colored florets are fried in a mixture of red wine vinegar, white truffle oil, salt, and pepper to give the dish an extra dimension of flavor and bread crumbs provide a crunchy texture. It’s then topped with stracciatella cheese, a soft and creamy cheese that resembles the center of burrata. Make a reservation at Proof + Pantry.
Cauliflower Toast, The Perennial, San Francisco, California
At newly opened The Perennial, chef Chris Kuniya uses all parts of the cauliflower — sometimes even the leaves. The stems are incorporated into a whey and cauliflower spread and the florets are charred and then pickled in Champagne vinegar and served atop crostini. The dressing changes frequently; sometimes it’s made with the leafy green puntarelle, other times with fermented mushroom water, fermented mushroom stock, fresh mushroom broth, and extra virgin olive oil. Make a reservation at The Perennial.
Roasted Cauliflower Steak, Andiron Steak & Sea, Las Vegas, Nevada
At Andiron Steak & Sea, located in downtown Summerlin, chef Kim Canteenwalla roasts cauliflower, topping it with pale green romanesco, which has a similar texture to cauliflower, along with trumpet mushrooms, Manchego cheese, and a garnish of dressed arugula. It’s presented in a most dramatic way and is the perfect entrée for someone not quite in either a steak or sea mood. Make a reservation at Andiron Steak & Sea.
Fried Cauliflower, RN74, San Francisco, California
RN74 is known for it’s innovative presentation of its wine list on a board that resembles a train schedule as well as rich and indulgent dishes including foie gras, bone marrow, crab rillettes, and lobster thermidor. Even cauliflower gets a luxurious treatment here. Chef Michael Lee Rafidi serves it fried with uni aioli, duck fat bread crumbs, and chili flakes. Make a reservation at RN74.