In case you haven’t heard, fruits and vegetables are cool – and have been for a while. Feeding this ongoing trend is an ever-changing cast of “it” produce items, from a love affair with all things kale to avocado being put almost obsessively on everything.
The current obsession? The humble cauliflower.
According to The New York Times, the white, broccoli-like vegetable has become the darling of restauranteurs from Los Angeles to Paris, who even sometimes centre entire multi-course menus around the vegetable.
One of the reasons chefs have fallen in love with cauliflower, the Times writer theorises, is that it acts like meat – it becomes crusty and brown on the outside while maintaining its tenderness on the inside when baked, while also grabbing onto herbs and flavourings.
But while cauliflower steak is one meat-inspired take on the veggie, it’s also become popular thanks to the trend in gluten-free cooking, including cauliflower “rice” and cauliflower-crust pizza recipes.
No longer is the cauliflower to be associated with past preparations, its reputation as a stinky, soft vegetable your grandma made you eat.
Cauliflower is all grown up – and nowhere is that more clear than at Miznon, a restaurant chain in the coastal Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
A whole head of cauliflower, hot and steaming, is served to diners in brown paper after being rubbed with olive oil and roasted in an oven.
Its soft flesh can be pulled apart by forks, preferably dipped itahini or a thick yogurt known as labaneh, before hitting your lips.
Miznon’s owner, Eyal Shani, has taken his fast-food restaurant worldwide since the opening of the first one in 2011, including locations in Paris and Vienna, and one on the way in New York.
But while Miznon has become famous for is impressive-looking whole head of cauliflower, it’s quite simple to copy the technique at home.
Most recipes call for the home cook to steam or blanch the whole cauliflower, then bake it in a hot oven after rubbing it with oil. It will retain its moisture inside, while its exposed part takes on a beautiful brown colour, or left in longer, becomes crispy and dark brown.
The next time you want to really impress friends at a dinner party, trot out the whole roasted cauliflower head – this vegetable’s days as the untouched crudite on a veggie platter are finally at an end. – dpa