Eat Fresh

Star Ingredient of the Season: Cauliflower

Quite possibly the vegetable of 2015, cauliflower is showing up on menus all over Houston—but where is the best place to enjoy it while it's in season?

By Megha Tejpal March 25, 2015

An inspiring dish on the menu at North Italia starring this week's seasonal ingredient: grilled cauliflower and baby asparagus with pancetta cream, fresh lemon and a fried egg.

Image: Megha Tejpal

When it comes to dining out, farm-to-table is all the hype these days. Houston restaurants opting to use locally sourced ingredients in their dishes pride themselves in serving everything from organic produce to farm-raised beef. With more and more restaurants popping up with a shared belief in "supporting local," we're taking a deeper look into Houston's seasonal produce, exploring a different superstar fruit or vegetable at the the peak of its freshness each week.

The star of the season: Cauliflower

Cauliflower tends to make an appearance in Texas each spring after a winter harvest. Low in fat, high in fiber and a great source of Vitamin C, this versatile vegetable can be steamed, boiled, sauteed, roasted, fried and, of course, eaten raw. Cauliflower is sprouting up on farm-to-table restaurant menus all over Houston as diners crave more vegetarian-friendly options—especially hearty vegetables that can double as heavy appetizers or main dishes (did you know you can grill cauliflower steaks?).

In a Starring Role at: North Italia

North Italia
1700 Post Oak Blvd., Ste. 190

The new kid on the block at BLVD Place, North Italia has thoroughly impressed since opening its doors in early March. With its spacious dining room and open-air bar, guests are able to enjoy cocktails and hearty Italian fare during lunch, dinner, happy hour and even weekend brunch. Expectations were high owing to the great success of sister property True Foods Kitchen in the same strip, and the casual yet sophisticated eatery does not disappoint. Executive chef Jonathan Wills and the team at North Italia have done a remarkable job in creating a true culinary experience, from the vibrant dining room to the brilliantly assembled modern Italian dishes.

It was on North Italia's new spring menu that I discovered the cauliflower dish to top all cauliflower dishes: bright green, grilled cauliflower florets and baby asparagus topped with toasted breadcrumbs, pancetta cream, lemon and a perfect fried egg. A dish so hard to resist with its unique blend of ingredients and fresh flavor, it gives new meaning to the term "spring forward." With all of the action the sunny side up egg has been getting lately, set atop pizzas and sandwiched between burger buns, it was refreshing to see it used in a lighter dish. Pair your app with the Julietta, a signature cocktail made with vanilla-and-ginger-infused vodka, St. Germaine, lime and Prosecco, for a fantastic start to your meal. As with many of the dishes and drinks are at North Italia, the grilled cauliflower is just as enjoyable to look at as it is to eat. The brightly colored ingredients are a perfect nod to the spring season, making this dish our cauliflower champ this week.

Spring is in full swing in Houston—the restaurant patios are bustling, the cocktails are flowing at happy hour and the farm-to-table restaurants are serving up pretty plates full of produce. Stay tuned each week to hear more about what's fresh right now and the best places to enjoy the bounty of the season.


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