Web Original: Critic’s Notebook: Veggie Makeover

Cauliflower has long been considered kind of an ugly duckling of the vegetable world. Mishandled, it can take on an unpleasant cooked-cabbage smell and mushy texture. But cooked with care, it’s a culinary chameleon and one of my favorite veggies. When roasted until the floret’s edges begin to char it takes on a nutty flavor. Pureed in a soup, it lends creaminess and complexity of flavor. Fried in a light batter, cauliflower is crisp but tender and full of freshness.

But my favorite of all preparations is the vegetable voodoo pulled off by Shouk in its sweet and spicy cauliflower mezze. The $7 dish is an ample portion of perfectly cooked florets coated in an orange-y glaze that’s sweet without being sticky and zesty without being hot. It’s so delicious I’ve seen cauliflower haters converted right before my eyes.