For the past four years, chef Jason Weiner has offered a Meatless Monday menu at his restaurant, Almond, in New York. The idea, he says, is to urge omnivores to accept vegetables as a main course. To do this, he relies frequently on a versatile veggie almost everyone likes: cauliflower. “Cauliflower is this blank slate. It has the ability to take on any flavor, kind of like chicken,” Weiner says. Over the years, Almond’s Meatless Monday menu has included chicken-fried cauliflower, General Tso’s cauliflower, and Buffalo cauliflower topped with Roquefort dressing, which was so popular that it was promoted to the regular menu.
Weiner isn’t the only chef experimenting with the pale crucifer. “It’s absolutely everywhere,” says Elena North-Kelly, managing editor at the James Beard Foundation, a culinary arts organization. “Cauliflower’s moved from the boring side dish, and now we’re seeing it take on a starring role.” Girl & the Goat in Chicago tops it with pickled peppers. Ox in Portland, Ore., covers it in tahini sauce. At the Florence in Savannah, Ga., a cauliflower head is “whole-roasted” and served in a cast-iron skillet.
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