Gallery: Vegetable Month Recap: All The Vegetables We Ate in January

Wok-Fried Kangkong at Fatty Crab
Wok-Fried Kangkong at Fatty Crab

Kangkong—also known as water convolvulus, also known as water spinach, but come on, isn't that first name the best?—is a green you'll see in East and Southeast Asia, and it's very popular in Malaysia, whence chef Zak Pelaccio draws much of his inspiration. There, as here, it's wok'd up with sambal belacan, a pounded paste of lime, chili, and fermented shrimp paste; Fatty Crab finishes with a splash of rice wine shaoxing. Read the full entry »

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Crispy Brussels Sprouts ($6) at Whitehall
Crispy Brussels Sprouts ($6) at Whitehall

These sprouts, which I personally have for dinner on an alarming basis, launched the very idea of Vegetable Month, in that they reminded us how downright craveable a vegetable can be. (No fewer than four Serious Eats writers mentioned either these brussels sprouts or the identical ones at Whitehall's sister restaurant Mary Queen of Scots, when I asked for outstanding veggie recommendations.) These guys are fried until brown and crisp before they're tossed in a dressing of house-made grain mustard and AnCnoc 12-year Scotch along with lemon to brighten them up, parsley to add a little green back in, and enough malted sea salt to really kick them into perfect snack territory.

Whitehall: 19 Greenwich Avenue, New York NY 10014 (map); 212-675-7261; whitehall-nyc.com

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Crispy Chinese Watercress Salad at Sripraphai
Crispy Chinese Watercress Salad at Sripraphai

What makes this simple-sounding salad so special? Let's start with the namesake ingredient. Stalks of steamed Chinese watercress are dipped in batter and fried until crisp, flaky, and impossibly light. The veg is then placed over a bed of lettuce, meaty king oyster and oyster mushrooms, strips of tofu, toasted cashews and whole chillies, then dressed with a spicy, sweet, and sour combination of lime juice and chili sauce. The mushrooms add substance, the tofu soaks up the dressing, and the cashews add a nutty crunch.Read the full entry »

[Photograph: Sara Markel-Gonzalez]

Kale Salad at Northern Spy
Kale Salad at Northern Spy

Made with raw lacinato kale, crumbled Cabot clothbound cheddar, roasted squash, toasted almonds, and pecorino. Don't be afraid of the uncooked nature of the kale—the bright greens feel wholesome (even dressed up in cheese), but they've relaxed enough in the dressing to not require too much chewing. Read the full entry »

[Photo: Robyn Lee]

Heirloom Cauliflower, Pear, Sage at The Dutch ($9)
Heirloom Cauliflower, Pear, Sage at The Dutch ($9)

Andrew Carmellini, the chef-mastermind behind The Dutch, is a big fan of cauliflower and pear combos. The natural sweetness of the roasted vegetable and the juicy tartness of the pears mingle nicely together. Plus, they're both around in the winter when most other produce is on sabbatical.

This side features a trio of colorful cauliflower (white, purple, marigold), which are roasted in brown butter and sage until the floret coats turn a golden-brown. And though the cauliflower may be the headliner, this is really as much about the pears: fresh Seckel slices are mixed in with softer, pickled chunks that are warmly spiced. The cauliflower is also tossed with juice from the pickled pears to add a little more zing, and for crunch, there's a smattering of toasted, nicely salted hazelnuts.

The Dutch: 131 Sullivan Street, New York NY 10012 (at Prince; map); 212-677-6200; thedutchnyc.com

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Broccoli with a Soft-Boiled Egg and Stracciatella from Brucie
Broccoli with a Soft-Boiled Egg and Stracciatella from Brucie

When's the last time you were really, really wowed by a plate of broccoli? Much of the wow factor here has to do with the housemade stracciatella nestled on top, but to be fair to the broccoli, it's roasted until shriveled, sweet, and a deep forest green. The florets form a bed for the soft tangle of stracciatella, which starts as Brucie's fresh mozzarella—you might see someone pulling strands of it during lunch service—and soaks in cream overnight. It wakes up the next day as luscious, delicately stringy stracciatella.
Read the full entry »

[Photograph: Andrew Strenio]

Okra with Green Papaya at Neerob
Okra with Green Papaya at Neerob

The crunchier texture and sweet flavor of the thinly sliced papaya plays off nicely with the softer okra, which retains an element of squishiness and all of its delicate flavor. Rather then the ubiquitous mustard oil, the primary seasoning employed is turmeric. The dish is not as fiery as some of the restaurant's other fare, and more straightforward then the sauce-heavy fish plates. Read the full entry »

[Photo: Mir Finkleman]

Sunchokes from Franny's
Sunchokes from Franny's

The brown, knobbly tubers are cooked until their skins get all shriveled. Just a gentle side-of-the-fork cut gives way to soft, mashy innards. It's easy for your eyes to move onto the bright tangerine segments, and when you put them into your mouth, you realize they're not just tangerines.

They're tangerines that have been dressed in a Franny's concoction of Calabrian chile oil (the same oil that goes into their spicy salami), blended tangerine zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and honey.
Read the full entry »

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Radicchio at Salumeria Rosi
Radicchio at Salumeria Rosi

A winter special, Salumeria Rosi's braised radicchio manages to capture the rich warmth of a comforting cold-weather dish without being heavy. First braised, then baked, in red wine, balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil, the radicchio maintains a crunch despite the slow cooking.

Read the full entry »

[Photo: Christine Tsai]

Carrots and Sunchokes at Fedora
Carrots and Sunchokes at Fedora

Sunchokes, carrots of various rainbow colors, and even tears of romaine lettuce are cooked on the piping hot plancha with glugs of olive oil and butter (why settle for just one fat source?), until they shrink up and release all of their sugars. Roasted almonds are mixed in, adding crunch and their sweet nut oils.

Read the full entry »

[Photographs: Alice Gao]

Kale Salad at Chuko
Kale Salad at Chuko

Small pieces of kale take on two forms, some left raw and softly crunchy, some tempura-fried (and, well, crisply crunchy), the batter clinging to their every crag and cranny. They're dressed in a faintly sweet white miso vinaigrette that gently soaks in; pickled golden raisins join the greens, and strands of crisped-up Japanese sweet potato curl on top.

Read the full entry »

[Photo: Carey Jones]

Minted Sugar Snap Peas from The Smile
Minted Sugar Snap Peas from The Smile

The crisp peas are tossed with a more-than-ample amount of good olive oil and a ton of sea salt and mint, such that the herb really flavors every bite without ever being overwhelming.

They're salty in that snackable can't-get-enough way; some bites were a little too salty, but give the whole bowl a good stir and you should be fine. Simple? Of course. But there's nothing wrong with simple done right.
Read the full entry »

[Photo: Robyn Lee]

Shira-ae from Hibino
Shira-ae from Hibino

The "shira-ae" under Hibino's "tofu" section of the menu looks like a big mass of green, which it is, but it's a little more nuanced than that. The chefs at this cozy, Kyoto-style Japanese corner spot simmer the greens in a dashi broth just long enough for the veggies to absorb its light, clean flavor while remaining crisp.
Read the full entry »

[Photograph: Andrew Strenio]

Fried Brussels Sprouts & Chinese Sausage from Kin Shop ($12)
Fried Brussels Sprouts & Chinese Sausage from Kin Shop ($12)

Persimmon is one of those great fruits that can go either sweet or savory, and just about anything would be delicious atop Kin Shop's persimmon nam prik. But the best part is the sprouts themselves, fried and tossed in fermented apple vinegar with Chinese sausage.

Kin Shop: 469 6th Avenue, New York NY 10011 (b/n 11th and 12th; map); 212-675-4295; kinshopnyc.com

Caramelized Cauliflower at Joseph Leonard ($12)
Caramelized Cauliflower at Joseph Leonard ($12)

After traveling through London in the fall of 2009, James McDuffee came back wanting to recreate one specific cauliflower dish at the not-yet-open Joseph Leonard. The original inspiration came from the fine kitchen of St. John's. "Mine might be even better, not that it's a competition or anything," said McDuffee. Instead of roasting the cauliflower, he decided to deep-fry the florets so that every one is a deep russet-brown. You can barely even see the white vegetable underneath, it's that thoroughly fried. You almost forget you're even eating a vegetable, which is why he adds some raw pieces of 'flower to the plate, too.

Pickled onions and the dijon mustard vinaigrette cut the sweet cauliflower oils with some acid. Plenty of fresh parsley, tarragon, chives, and chervil are mixed in too. And fellow caper fiends: you will love all the salty green beads mixed in here.

Joseph Leonard: 170 Waverly Place, New York NY 10014 (at Christopher; map); 646-429-8383; josephleonard.com

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Queso Fundido With Baked Pumpkin and Sikil Pak at Empellon ($12)
Queso Fundido With Baked Pumpkin and Sikil Pak at Empellon ($12)

You're going to win us over with a pot of melted cheese any day, but the queso fundido with baked pumpkin at Empellon makes gooey warm cheese even more comforting than usual. The cheese is a stretchy, salty jack, and the pieces of pumpkin are baked until tender, with a bit of golden brown crisp skirting the edges. Fresh flour tortillas are served alongside. Sikil Pak is the grainy salsa; the blend of pumpkin seeds, orange juice, and habanero adds a bright flash of acidity and a subtle heat to the rich dish.

Empellon: 230 West 4th Street, New York NY 10014 (map); 212-367-0999; empellon.com

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Yellow Curry of Delicata Squash at Betel ($18)
Yellow Curry of Delicata Squash at Betel ($18)

A main dish that's as complex and hearty as any of Betel's non-veg dishes. It's fragrant with chef Adam Woodfield's curry paste, fried up in the wok before it's cut with rich coconut milk. Plump shallots essentially poach in that curry, while the delicata is roasted with fennel and caramelizes a bit before it's introduced, a sweet counterpart to the curry's complex spice.

Betel: 51 Grove Street, New York NY 10014 (map); 212-352-0460; betelnyc.com

Brussels sprouts with chipotle, anchovy, and radish at Ma Peche ($12)
Brussels sprouts with chipotle, anchovy, and radish at Ma Peche ($12)

The brussels sprouts at Ma Peche look deceptively simple considering the powerful flavors they pack in. The sprouts are quartered, deep-fried (just past golden brown) and tossed with a chipotle anchovy vinaigrette, as well as a generous amount of radish, scallions, and mint. Each bite reveals the sweet, fishy funk of the vinaigrette, the fresh crunch of the radish and mint, and most importantly, the deep nuttiness (with a great hint of char) from the brussels sprouts themselves.

Ma Peche: 15 West 56th Street, New York NY 10019 (map); 212-757-5878; momofuku.com/restaurants/ma-peche

[Photo: Christine Tsai]

Trio of Eggplant at Tulsi ($18)
Trio of Eggplant at Tulsi ($18)

At Tulsi, chef Hemant Mathur is not content to give diners just one of two renditions of the eggplant in his appetizer dish. Mathur's Trio of Eggplant features masala-stuffed baby eggplants flanked by a cold eggplant salad and crispy, tamarind tinged eggplant fritters. The dish is perfectly balanced—both within each item and across the plate. The stuffed eggplant is cooked just to the point of being soft without deteriorating into mush. Its moderate heat from whole red chiles is tempered by tangy tamarind and sweet coconut. The fritters achieve that wonderful combination of crispy exterior and soft, yielding middle, while the tangy tomato chutney wakes up each bite. Somehow the light, refreshing eggplant salad steals the show with its bright flavors of coriander, yogurt, roasted cumin and the eggplant itself, which has been smoked to provide an incredible depth of flavor.

Tulsi: 211 East 46th Street, New York NY 10017 (map); 212-888-0820; tulsinyc.com

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Crispy Brussels Sprouts at Alta ($10.50)
Crispy Brussels Sprouts at Alta ($10.50)

Creme fraiche, apple, and crushed pistachios make this unorthodox spouts preparation so memorable.

Alta: 64 West 10th Street, New York NY 10014 (map); 212-505-7777; altarestaurant.com

[Photo: Robyn Lee]

Eggplant Mirzah at Persepolis ($7)
Eggplant Mirzah at Persepolis ($7)

The thick spread of roasted eggplant, tomato, and garlic was rich with earthy Middle Eastern spices, and topped with a small smear of homemade yogurt; spread on pita, it's pretty remarkable.

Persepolis: 1407 2nd Avenue, New York NY 10021 (between 73rd & 74th; map); 212-535-1100; persepolisnyc.com.com

[Photo: Laura Togut]

Yachaejuk at Bonjuk
Yachaejuk at Bonjuk

At Bonjuk in Flushing, the menu is devoted to juk, and although wonderful meat versions are available, the luscious vegetarian yachae juk ($9.95) is no less satisfying for omnivores and vegetarians alike. The dish is built around a fine mince of carrots, onions, and chives and topped with a crumble of toasted sesame seeds and slightly bitter crushed deulkkae garu (perilla seed) to lift the flavors. To interrupt any monotony, it's served with kimchi and a refreshing bowl of vinegary mul kimchi (kimchi water). Read the full entry »

[Photo: Chris Hansen]

Curry Spaghetti Squash at Colicchio and Sons (part of $35/meal)
Curry Spaghetti Squash at Colicchio and Sons (part of $35/meal)

Strands of spaghetti squash are tossed with a rich but delicate coconut milk curry. Curls of pickled red onion brighten the plate, and add a tangy, acidic crunch to the mix.

Colicchio and Sons: 85 10th Avenue, New York NY 10011 (map); 212-400-6699; colicchioandsons.com

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Okra with Shrimp at Nyonya
Okra with Shrimp at Nyonya

It's the okra, or "lady fingers" as they're called, that takes center stage. The half-inch cuts are firm but not tough and not slimy in the least; they're stir-fired with belachan, fermented shrimp paste, and a bit of chili for heat. The few plump shrimp are properly cooked, but really secondary to the huge pile of slightly funk-ified okra, salty and plentiful and easy to devour.
Read the full entry »

[Photo: Maggie Hoffman]

Flowering Chives with Duck at Great NY Noodletown
Flowering Chives with Duck at Great NY Noodletown

Short segments are lightly stir-fried so that they're just cooked, with the vegetable as the prominent flavor—the familiar taste of chives, though more robust and in a slightly thicker, crisper, less wilt-able more cook-able form. They're bright and fresh-tasting enough to have you thinking of spring, even if winter has really yet to set in.
Read the full entry »

[Photo: Jessica Leibowitz]

Beet Salad from Colonie
Beet Salad from Colonie

You almost expect to see a beet salad on every menu these days, but this one's unlike any other you've met. Forget the predictable goat cheese and walnuts. These roasted beet wedges are carefully layered with paper thin, shattery shreds of cocoa tuile. Chocolate and beets together? And you get to call it a salad? The sweet, earthy beets actually work really with the delicate, slightly bitter cocoa sheets.

Read the full entry »

[Photograph: Andrew Strenio]

Kinpira at Zenkichi
Kinpira at Zenkichi

Williamsburg Japanese spot Zenkichi does simple incredibly well. Lotus roots and carrots are gently simmered in soy sauce and sesame oil for the Kinpira. Each maintain a tender crunch and take on delicate flavors of soy and sesame, with sesame seeds sprinkled on top for textural interest and a little nutty bite. Read the full entry »

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Roasted Beets at L'Artusi
Roasted Beets at L'Artusi

What is it about roasted beets ($12) and yogurt that works so well together? I find its mouth-coating richness infinitely more appealing than its creamy-tart cousin, goat cheese. Perhaps it's that good, thick yogurt really integrates a salad, pulling its components in and helping everything cling together.

Read the full entry »

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Brussels Sprouts at Momofuku Noodle Bar
Brussels Sprouts at Momofuku Noodle Bar

While so many preparations char up their brussels sprouts, Momofuku Noodle Bar keeps them moist, in a heaping pile of tangled shreds with Chinese sausage, crisp spaetzle, bits of apple, and a mustard-based dressing that drenches the whole thing. Spooned up when steaming hot, it's got the warm-your-soul quality of a hot sauerkraut, belly-heating and satisfying.

Momofuku Noodle Bar: 171 1st Avenue, New York NY 10003 (map); 212-777-7773; momofuku.com/restaurants/noodle-bar

[Photo: Christine Tsai]

Cauliflower Salad at Mimi's Hummus ($6)
Cauliflower Salad at Mimi's Hummus ($6)

Caramelized cauliflower's nuttiness is brought out through a creamy dressing of their own tahini, with parsley to brighten things up. Good enough that it's tempting to just order bowls of this, rather than their hummus. (Though you should really order hummus, too.)

Mimi's Hummus: 1209 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn NY 11218 (map); 718-284-4444; mimishummus.com

[Photo: Robyn Lee]

Fried Brussels Sprouts with Queso Fresco at Toloache, $8
Fried Brussels Sprouts with Queso Fresco at Toloache, $8

We don't necessarily think of brussels sprouts as standard Latin fare, but Toloache's preparation of convinces us of brussels' versatility. The sprouts are fried and tossed with tangy sweet pickled red onions, and crumbled queso fresco, topped with upland cress micro greens. The queso fresco lends a creamy saltiness to the dish without taking away from the nutty crunch of the brussels sprouts, while the onions accentuate the vinegary contrast.

Toloache: 251 West 50th Street, New York NY 10019 (map); 212-581-1818; toloachenyc.com/small>

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Brussels Sprouts at Chuko ($7)
Brussels Sprouts at Chuko ($7)

The spout halves are fried before they're tossed in a sultry-savory vinaigrette of fish sauce and soy that soaks into all the crannies; honey roasted peanuts and pickled peppers top them off.

Chuko: 552 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11238 (at Dean Street, map); 718 576-6701

[Photo: Carey Jones]

Fried Eggplant Cubes with Tomato and Garlic at Sip Sak
Fried Eggplant Cubes with Tomato and Garlic at Sip Sak

It's unremarkably named but remarkably tasty, and their baba ghanoosh is exceptionally smoky and creamy. We like to smoosh the two eggplants together on some of their bread for an extra eggplanty-experience. And their eggplant-heavy moussaka? Darn tasty, too.

Sip Sak: 928 2nd Avenue, New York NY 10022 (map); 212-583-1900; sip-sak.com

Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and pancetta with Scharfe maxx at The John Dory Oyster Bar ($9)
Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and pancetta with Scharfe maxx at The John Dory Oyster Bar ($9)

Just because you're eating something green doesn't necessarily mean you're being virtuous. The brussels sprouts at John Dory are happy to remind you of vegetables' potential for decadence. Pan-roasted with mushrooms in olive oil until golden brown and tender, the sprouts are then sauteed with hefty, meaty pieces of pancetta (cured in-house). A béchamel sauce of sharp Scharfe maxx cheese is mixed in, then topped with parmesan bread crumbs. The resulting dish, served piping hot in a mini cast iron skillet, is salty, creamy, and more indulgent than you'd think vegetables could be.

The John Dory Oyster Bar: 1196 Broadway, New York NY 10001 (at 29th Street in the Ace Hotel; map); 212-792-9000; thejohndory.com

[Photo: Christine Tsai]

Eggplant in Garlic Sauce ($9.95)
Eggplant in Garlic Sauce ($9.95)

The eggplant comes crusted in a paper-thin cornstarch slurry that's fried into a perfectly crisp, crackly crust that stays cruncy even when tossed with their mildly garlicky chili sauce.

Legend: 88 7th Avenue, New York NY 10011 (between 15th and 16th; map); legendbarrestaurant.com

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Salads at Radish
Salads at Radish

As you might expect, Radish in Williamsburg does a great radish salad, "coupling fresh mango with red onions, green peppers, and of course, radishes, sliced paper-thin and tossed with black sesame seeds in the lightest of vinaigrettes," as Kathy YL Chan wrote in 2010. But their other seasonally rotating salads are worth a try, too. I enjoyed the Kale and Clementine ($6) on a recent visit. Beyond those two ingredients—kale torn into bite-sized pieces (it's amazing how many kale salads are in unwieldy chunks) and neatly segmented citrus—it's laced with Parmesan and hazelnuts, in crumbles and shards that cling to every piece.Read the full entry »

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Cauliflower Smørrebrød at Vandaag ($12)
Cauliflower Smørrebrød at Vandaag ($12)

How does the Cauliflower Smørrebrød at Vandaag use cauliflower? Let us count the ways. There's the rich, impossibly creamy white cauliflower spread atop the red ale toast, and the more vegetal-tasting green puree dotted throughout. There's the beer-battered fried cauliflower, the pickled purple cauliflower, the raw Romanesco, the crackly-thin chips on top; altogether, it seems like the skillful weaving together of a dozen ingredients, not so many renditions of one.

Vandaag: 103 Second Avenue, New York NY 10003 (at East 6th; map); 212-253-0470; vandaagnyc.com

[Photo: Carey Jones]

Eggplant with Garlic Sauce at Grand Sichuan ($11)
Eggplant with Garlic Sauce at Grand Sichuan ($11)

Spicy, garlicky, sauce-drenched eggplant is just our kind of thing. Perfectly illustrates eggplant's ability to be an oil (and flavor!) sponge. Cut into long sloppy logs, they're somehow more satisfying than more predictable coins or cubes. Make sure you've got enough rice for the gooey, chili-flecked brown sauce.

Grand Sichuan: Multiple locations (map); thegrandsichuan.com

[Photo: Robyn Lee]

Cauliflower at Parm ($5)
Cauliflower at Parm ($5)

Taking inspiration "straight from our grandmothers," Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi doctor up cauliflower with Progresso bread crumbs, roasted red onions, and a squeeze of lemon and rosemary—both totally homey and brilliantly done.

Parm: 248 Mulberry Street, New York NY 10012 (map); 212-993-7189; parmnyc.com

[Photo: Robyn Lee]

Kabocha Squash Toast at ABC Kitchen ($10)
Kabocha Squash Toast at ABC Kitchen ($10)

Squash, ricotta, and bread is hardly a novel combination, but ABC Kitchen's is distinguished by the squash itself. It's roasted with chiles, olive oil, caramelized onions, and both cider vinegar and maple syrup, which lends characteristically autumnal maple-apple notes but in a manner that's both sweet and savory. All that, plus housemade ricotta and no shortage of olive oil, top the Sullivan Street bakery toast. (Sound good? Their roasted butternut squash ain't bad, either.)

ABC Kitchen: 35 East 18th St, New York NY 10003 (map); 212-475-5829; abckitchennyc.net

[Photos: Christine Tsai]

Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad ($12) at The Good Fork
Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad ($12) at The Good Fork

An ingenious twist on a Caesar salad: arugula and the roasted brussels come dressed in a creamy, anchovy-spiked caesar dressing. The whole thing is topped with a runny-yolked poached egg, bacon, and Parmesan. Pig and brussels sprouts are a well-traveled combination, with good reason, but the egg takes this dish over the top.

The Good Fork: 391 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn NY 11231 (map); 718-643-6636; goodfork.com

[Photos: Ben Fishner]

Cauliflower with garlic, lemon, and gremolata at Ardesia ($8)
Cauliflower with garlic, lemon, and gremolata at Ardesia ($8)

"Some people just don't get excited about cauliflower," we were told upon arriving at Ardesia. Naysayers should prepare to have a change of heart after trying this preparation. The cauliflower is broken up into florets, pan roasted with garlic and lemon juice, and covered in gremolata. Those roasted brown bits are delicious enough, but the gremolata—a mixture of panko, garlic, parsley, and lemon and orange zest—is what makes it memorable. In addition to providing a great crunchy texture, the bright citrus flavors from the zest lend a bright freshness to every bite.

Ardesia: 510 West 52nd Street,New York NY10 019 (map); 212-247-9191; ardesia-ny.com

[Photo: Christine Tsai]

Eggplant 'Caviar' at Caucasus Garden ($6.90)
Eggplant 'Caviar' at Caucasus Garden ($6.90)

Grilled eggplant at this Azerbaijani spot in Sheepshead Bay is minced and mixed with sweet peppers, onions, and fresh garlic, all swimming in olive oil; salty, sweet, and slightly spicy. Eat it with a warm, puffy lavash that'll just cost you $1 more.

Caucasus Garden: 2715 Avenue U, Brooklyn NY 11229
(map); 718-769-7003; caucasusgarden.com

Butternut Squash with Tahini at Balaboosta ($10)
Butternut Squash with Tahini at Balaboosta ($10)

One of Ed's favorite dishes in the city right now—meltingly soft cubes of squash with appealingly browned edges, drizzled in a complex sweet glaze of housemade tahini mixed with honey, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. We love how tahini can go either sweet or savory; in this case, the dish is a little bit of both.

Balaboosta: 214 Mulberry Street, New York NY 10012 (map); 212-966-7366; balaboostanyc.com

[Photo: Carey Jones]

Cauliflower side from Bark ($6)
Cauliflower side from Bark ($6)

These cauliflower, from Philips Farm in Jersey, are roasted until the florets are fork-tender-soft and charred around some edges. The stems stay a little al dente and you also get plenty of crunch from the layer of toasted almond pieces on top. Everything gets tossed in a caper vinaigrette that's so salty, caper-briny, and lemon-zesty, you taste it coating every bite.

Bark: 474 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 (map); 718-789-1939; barkhotdogs.com

Sauteed Eggplant at Hoomoos Asli ($4.75)
Sauteed Eggplant at Hoomoos Asli ($4.75)

It's nothing but eggplant and oil, cooked down, and it's rich and sultry with a deep, concentrated sweetness. Pomegranate molasses? Balsamic vinegar? we wondered, but no; just the veg. If we ever doubted the power of eggplant (and eggplant alone) to do amazing things, this set us straight.

Hoomoos Asli: 100 Kenmare Street, New York NY 10012 (map); 212-966-0022

Brussels Sprouts at The Vanderbilt ($5)
Brussels Sprouts at The Vanderbilt ($5)

With crispy skins and a good bit of char, they're sprinkled with sesame seeds and finished with a sweet, spicy glaze of sriracha, lime, and honey. They sort of end up tasting like American Chinese food, but in a really, really good way.

The Vanderbilt: 570 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11238 (at Bergen; map); 718-623-0570; thevanderbiltnyc.com

[Photo: Robyn Lee]

Nasu Dengaku at Zenkichi ($8.95)
Nasu Dengaku at Zenkichi ($8.95)

Soft, squishy cylinders of just-oily-enough eggplant are topped with generous dollops of spicy white miso mustard, plus sesame seeds for crunch. Sweet and savory in all the right ways.

Zenkichi: 77 North 6th Street, Brooklyn NY 11211 (b/n Wythe and Berry; map); 718-388-8985; zenkichi.com

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Japanese Butter Squash with Ginger at Cafe China ($12)
Japanese Butter Squash with Ginger at Cafe China ($12)

Tender and sweet nuggets of squash with a buttery smooth, creamy texture bound in a velvety sauce flavored with ginger and scallions make a great winter warmer.

Cafe China: 13 East 37th Street, New York, NY 10016 (between 5th and Madison; map); 212-213-2810 ‎ cafechinanyc.com

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Brussels Sprouts at L'Artusi ($8)
Brussels Sprouts at L'Artusi ($8)

What's better than brussels sprouts? Fried sprouts. And what makes those better? A shower of Parmesan on top. L'Artusi's brussels sprouts were recommended by many readers and our own contributors, and we can see why. (Sister restaurant dell'Anima often does them brilliantly, too, sauteed with red onion, smoked pumpkin seeds and dried cherries.)

L'Artusi: 228 West 10th Street, New York NY 10014 (map); 212-255-5757; lartusi.com

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Honey Roast Delicata Squash Salad at Marble Lane
Honey Roast Delicata Squash Salad at Marble Lane

Season 4 Top Chef alum Manuel Trevino highlights the true sweetness of winter squash in this salad. Roasted delicata squash is laced throughout this salad of arugula, pomegranates, hazelnuts, and topped with a crostini spread with creamy burrata from Vermont. The squash is shaved thinly, tossed in salt, pepper, olive oil and honey and roasted, turning it into something reminiscent of a chewy caramel of concentrated squash. The salad is dressed in a saba vinaigrette (a sweet syrup that comes from grape must).

Marble Lane: 355 West 16th Street, New York NY 10011 (map); 212-229-2336

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Roasted brussels sprouts with whole grain mustard, parmesan, and crushed almonds at Back Forty ($8)
Roasted brussels sprouts with whole grain mustard, parmesan, and crushed almonds at Back Forty ($8)

Back Forty allows the sprouts to shine in their simple, thoughtful preparation. The roasted sprouts are tossed in a whole grain mustard dressing and sprinkled with pieces of salty parmesan. What sets them apart are the crushed almonds added to the mix; they accentuate the nutty flavor of the brussels sprouts and add a real crunch, as well.

Back Forty: 190 Avenue B, New York NY 10009 (map); 212-388-1990; backfortynyc.com

[Photo: Christine Tsai]

Tortang Talong at Engeline's Restaurant ($7.50)
Tortang Talong at Engeline's Restaurant ($7.50)

Roasted and smashed eggplant that's dipped in egg and fried so it looks omelet-y. Filipino-style eggplant omelet? We're down. Especially since you can add ground pork for a dollar.

Engeline's Restaurant: 5828 Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside NY 11377 (map); 718-898-7878

[Photo: Robyn Lee]

Pumpkin Salad at The Vanderbilt ($13)
Pumpkin Salad at The Vanderbilt ($13)

Not the only squash–soft cheese combination we love, but one distinguished by the super-creamy smoked ricotta, its strong, sultry flavor pairing beautifully with the pumpkin's sweetness, cut by pickled shallot with candied pepitas for a nutty crunch.

The Vanderbilt: 570 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11238 (at Bergen; map); 718-623-0570, thevanderbiltnyc.com

Manchurian Cauliflower at Devi ($12)
Manchurian Cauliflower at Devi ($12)

The Manchurian Cauliflower at Devi is one of those dishes that, though it's served at an elegant restaurant, manages to be craveable in the delicious lowbrow way generally reserved for cheap eats and fast food. Little florets are coated in egg and cornstarch before they're fried and tossed in a sauce of ketchup, garlic, and cayenne. Between the sweet-tangy-spicy sauce and the fried-up crisp on the outside, it ends up a little reminiscent of General Tso's, but that's not at all a bad thing.

Devi: 8 East 18th Street, New York NY 10003 (map); 212-691-1300; devinyc.com

Eggplant Parmesan at Rubirosa and Parm
Eggplant Parmesan at Rubirosa and Parm

You can't talk about eggplant without talking about eggplant parmesan. But we can't talk about eggplant parmesan without thinking fondly of both Rubirosa and Parm, both Mulberry Street Italian-American spots that do incredible things with red sauce. We invite you to try both and pick a favorite. (We can't.)

Parm: 248 Mulberry Street, New York NY 10012 (map); 212-993-7189; parmnyc.com

Rubirosa: 235 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012 (b/n Prince and Spring Streets; map); 212-965-0500; rubirosanyc.com

[Photo: Kathy YL Chan]

Eggplant
Eggplant "caviar" at Mimi's Hummus ($6)

One of the sweeter eggplant preparations we love, with parsley, tahini, and honey.

Mimi's Hummus: 1209 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn NY 11218 (map); 718-284-4444; mimishummus.com

[Photo: Robyn Lee]

Cauliflower at Tanoreen ($6.50)
Cauliflower at Tanoreen ($6.50)

Though this cauliflower too comes fried, the sweet-and-savory dressing (tahini sauce and pomegranate molasses) helps it seem much lighter.

Tanoreen: 7523 Third Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11209 (map); 718-748-5600; tanoreen.com

Fried Cauliflower at Rainbow Falafel & Shawarma
Fried Cauliflower at Rainbow Falafel & Shawarma

The best part of roasted cauliflower is the brown bits around the edges—so it stands to reason that frying cauliflower to maximize said brown bits could make it even better. Rainbow Falafel does just that, turning each floret a deep crisp bronze with tender insides, then showering it all with a spice blend that's heavy on the heat and on the cumin. Get it in a sandwich as pictured here, or atop hummus and vegetables on a platter ($5/$8)—delicious either way.

Rainbow Falafel & Shawarma: 6 East 17th Street, New York NY 10003 (map); 212-691-8641

Green Beans at Fedora
Green Beans at Fedora

French green beans also get the oil and salt treatment, along with black bean sauce, so that each thin strand of bean is coated with all those salty, Chinese takeout-reminiscent flavors, along with lemon juice, and some thin, green scallion wisps on top.

Read the full entry »

[Photographs: Alice Gao]

Roasted Carrots from Fatty Cue
Roasted Carrots from Fatty Cue

Are you carrots or beef? If you're carrots, then you're very beefy carrots. The carrots, roasted until practically blistered, are coated in an unctuously beefy brown glaze made with marrow, that incomparably rich, scoopable fat-goop tucked into the bones. You almost forget there are carrots in this carrot-headlining dish. You also have to really like tamarind, which brings a slightly sour stickiness to the glaze. Kaffir lime adds a vibrant splash, reminding you too of Fatty's Southeast Asian flavor profile.

Read the full entry »

[Photographs: Alice Gao]

Fennel Bagna Cauda at Buvette
Fennel Bagna Cauda at Buvette

Raw fennel is given the bagna cauda treatment—which translates to "warm bath" in Piedmontese—and is coated in olive oil, garlic, and anchovies. The kitchen is not shy about anchovy use here, its pungent saltiness as prominent as the fennel's deep anise flavor.Read the full entry »

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Beet Salad at The Dutch
Beet Salad at The Dutch

It's all about the little details in this salad, like the soft egg crumbles. At first you assume, oh just some egg crumbles, then realize how ridiculously smoky each speck is. The egg is first boiled until it's just set, then it gets the cold-smoke treatment. Tart apple slices and thin wisps of celery rib add a delicate crunch and the fresh horseradish shavings on top give the salad a little bite. Sunflower seeds are scatted about. Read the full entry »

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Black Kale at Buvette
Black Kale at Buvette

Bright, curly pieces of black kale are just slightly wilted, then dressed with olive oil, garlic, and chiles. Served atop crusty, buttery slices of garlic bread (from Royal Crown in Brooklyn), the kale receives some extra richness thanks to the golden yolk of a runny poached egg.Read the full entry »

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Radicchio Tardivo at Buvette
Radicchio Tardivo at Buvette

A traditional preparation from Veneto, Italy, radicchio is roasted with rosemary and served with chewy pieces of fried cheese. According to chef Jody Williams, you'll often see this dish as a part of lunch in the region, served with prosciutto. Fried cheese may sound like a winter belly-filler, but it won't leave the menu come spring: "We look forward to frying cheese with radicchio as much as with strawberries in the spring, and watermelon granita in the summer," Williams says.Read the full entry »

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Braised endive with cream, smoked prosciutto, and nutmeg at Buvette
Braised endive with cream, smoked prosciutto, and nutmeg at Buvette

A rich dish made for cold winter nights, long strands of endive are braised until tender and served in a pool of cream and smoked prosciutto—the cream bath tinged with the salty smoke of the cured meat and a hint of nutmeg. Read the full entry »

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Poached leeks with mustard vinaigrette at Buvette
Poached leeks with mustard vinaigrette at Buvette

Leeks are lightly poached, maintaining their characteristic flavor and a pleasing bit of crunch. They're dressed with a grainy mustard vinaigrette and a bit of black pepper, flavoring without obscuring the vegetable in the slightest. Read the full entry »

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Shaved Savoy cabbage with hazelnuts, taleggio and speck at Buvette
Shaved Savoy cabbage with hazelnuts, taleggio and speck at Buvette

When we say, "We could really go for a salad," this is really the kind of dish we have in mind. Shaved Savoy cabbage is a suitable vehicle for buttery hazelnuts, savory cured speck, and ample pieces of creamy Taleggio cheese. The hazelnuts, speck, and thin ribbons of cabbage are all simple to swoop up in one bite, and if you've got any Taleggio left, spreading it on bread is not a bad idea at all. Read the full entry »

[Photo: Alice Gao]

King oyster mushrooms, celery, pesto, grilled grapes, cheese curds at Dirt Candy
King oyster mushrooms, celery, pesto, grilled grapes, cheese curds at Dirt Candy

Although this dish celebrates celery, it's the grilled grapes that first jump out and grab you. They have a deep, dark caramel sweetness, an unexpectedly complex flavor. Grilled king oyster mushrooms have a texture like calamari, the chef says, so they're here for their meatiness as much as their earthiness. A celery leaf pesto binds this composed salad together. Celery-crusted fried cheese curds—like mini-mozzarella sticks for veg-heads—will be the first things to disappear. Read the full entry »

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Buttermilk battered cauliflower, waffles, horseradish, wild arugula at Dirt Candy
Buttermilk battered cauliflower, waffles, horseradish, wild arugula at Dirt Candy

This is Chicken 'n Waffles for the vegetarian soul. Cornflake-crusted fried cauliflower, dusted with a hint of paprika, takes the place of the bird. Horseradish cream brings the heat. A tuft of wild arugula and apple sits up top, and a few technicolor purple cauliflower florets, lightly pickled, bring up the rear. Read the full entry »

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Steamed barbecue carrot buns, cucumber & sesame ginger salad at Dirt Candy
Steamed barbecue carrot buns, cucumber & sesame ginger salad at Dirt Candy

Replacing pork with carrots might not be the easiest way to make friends, but Chef Cohen coaxes crazy richness from the root vegetable in her steamed buns. Each has a different hue that corresponds to a specific carrot variety. The sweet carrot "hoisin" sauce is for dipping, and a zippy salad of white carrot and cucumber, with a carrot halvah crumble, is a refreshing counterpoint. Read the full entry »

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Chard gnocchi, grilled chard, garlic granola & drunken fig jam at Dirt Candy
Chard gnocchi, grilled chard, garlic granola & drunken fig jam at Dirt Candy

"People go crazy for it," says Chef Cohen of this, her most popular dish at the moment. The gnocchi here keep company with flavors both sweet (caramelized yogurt, drunken fig jam) and sour (pickled chard stems). A thick goat cheese sauce at the bottom provides richness, and garlic granola scattered over the top brings pungency and crunch into the picture. Read the full entry »

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Rosemary Eggplant Tiramisu ($12) at Dirt Candy
Rosemary Eggplant Tiramisu ($12) at Dirt Candy

Every vegetable they use at Dirt Candy becomes a dessert at some point, Chef Cohen says. Spinach is the only exception that comes to mind. Eggplant, then, is fair game. First conceptualized as a sweet take on baba ganoush, her eggplant tiramisu layers rosemary ladyfingers with mascarpone and grilled eggplant. A fat cloud of rosemary cotton candy—sweet, savory, and most importantly, fun—floats alongside. Read the full entry »

[Photo: Alice Gao]

Artichoke & Fennel Salad at Craft
Artichoke & Fennel Salad at Craft

Artichokes are braised in olive oil, white wine, chicken stock, rosemary and tarragon and served two ways: whole, with a crisp al dente texture, and pureed and emulsified with olive oil. The make-up of the braise lends savory notes to the buttery vegetable, while the emulsified puree adds richness to the dish. A topping of carrots and fennel nods to winter. Read the full entry »

[Photos: Christine Tsai]

Roasted Mushrooms at Craft
Roasted Mushrooms at Craft

A mix of all five varieties available, this dish included Trompette Royale, Black Trumpet, Hen of the Woods, Baby Shitake, and Oyster mushrooms. The mushrooms are pan roasted until golden, then tossed with fine herbs and a generous amount of shallot butter. While each variety has a distinct texture and flavor, all five kinds manage to avoid the rubbery texture and funky taste that turn many eaters off the vegetable. Instead, the dish is imbued with a richness from the butter and a deep, almost meaty smokiness from the mushrooms themselves. Read the full entry »

[Photos: Christine Tsai]

Roasted Brussels Sprouts at Craft
Roasted Brussels Sprouts at Craft

Brussels sprouts are pan roasted until brown, then tossed with butter, thyme leaves, and ground bacon. The fine grind of the bacon allows for a high bacon-to-brussels ratio, but doesn't take away from the nutty flavor of the sprouts themselves.
Read the full entry »

[Photos: Christine Tsai]

Braised Tuscan Kale at Craft
Braised Tuscan Kale at Craft

Ample leaves of kale are braised for two hours in sofrito—a slow-cooked blend of onions, celery, and carrots. This base cooks all day until it caramelizes, then white wine crushed tomatoes, and rosemary are added. The kale absorbs the deeply savory flavor of the sofrito, giving it a similar flavor to a winter soup or stew.
Read the full entry »

[Photos: Christine Tsai]

Roasted beets with housemade yogurt ($9) at ABC Kitchen
Roasted beets with housemade yogurt ($9) at ABC Kitchen

Gold, chiogga, and red beets roasted and served over creamy yogurt, its tartness amplified when it mingles with 25-year aged balsamic vinegar along with Arbequina olive oil. Read the full entry »

[Photos: Christine Tsai]

Roasted butternut squash ($12) at ABC Kitchen
Roasted butternut squash ($12) at ABC Kitchen

Parmesan-coated before it's roasted for that distinctive crisped-up Parm taste; pumpkin seeds, shaved lemon zest and chili flakes finish it off. Read the full entry »

[Photos: Christine Tsai]

Roast carrot and avocado salad ($14) at ABC Kitchen
Roast carrot and avocado salad ($14) at ABC Kitchen

One of our favorites on ABC Kitchen's menu since day one. Long, slender carrots are roasted with cumin and red chile, then dressed with a vinaigrette made from citrus that's also been roasted; it's paired with avocado wedges, sour cream, crunchy seeds, and generous, deliciously oily rough croutons. Read the full entry »

[Photos: Christine Tsai]

Roasted Cauliflower ($15) at ABC Kitchen
Roasted Cauliflower ($15) at ABC Kitchen

What chef Dan Kluger calls a thick cauliflower "steak" is roasted to a crisp-edged golden brown before it's topped with garlic breadcrumbs, walnut crumbs, and onions "cooked down almost to a jam," flavorful crumbly bits to augment the cauliflowers' own. Read the full entry »

[Photos: Christine Tsai]

Roasted sunchokes ($9) at ABC Kitchen
Roasted sunchokes ($9) at ABC Kitchen

Roasted in the wood oven and dressed with hazelnuts, jalapeños, sage, and sherry vinegar with honey. Read the full entry »

[Photos: Christine Tsai]