Food & Drink

Kale 2.0: The Trendy Vegetables You're About to Be Sick Of

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Few, if any, vegetables have become as culturally invasive as kale. Sure, it's super healthy for you, but let's face it, what once was a cutting-edge green -- seen on health-nut Instagram accounts and fancy menus alike -- is now a wilted trend.

So what's up next? Thrillist staffers have an idea. Below are the six vegetables we've noticed popping up quite frequently on menus all over the country, from San Francisco, to Chicago, to Austin. These veggies are steadily creeping toward ubiquity -- perhaps this time next year you'll find their names screen-printed on tote bags.

Celeriac/celery root

The bulb of this specific variety of celery has long been a common ingredient in simple soups, but the root veggie has recently charged onto menus as an appetizer, salad ingredient, and side dish alongside heartier proteins. It has the starchy texture of a potato, but still retains the crisp, clean flavor of its namesake stalk.

Notable preparations:
Pan-seared diver scallops with celery root puree, Honeycrisp apple, honey thyme vinaigrette, arugula from Perennial Virant (Chicago)
Celery root ravioli with wild escarole, quince paste, shavings of goat Gouda from The Progress (San Francisco)
Smoked turkey leg with celery root, apple, white barbecue sauce from Animal (Los Angeles)

Sunchokes

Also known as Jerusalem artichokes, sunchokes are native to North America and were originally eaten by Native Americans prior to Columbus' arrival, but these days you're likely to find them in the small-plates section of New American restaurants. The taste of this tuberous root is often compared to potatoes, except sweeter and sharper thanks to a composition of inulin dietary fibers instead of starch.

Notable preparations: 
Sunchoke soup with brown butter, fermented chilis, capers, and oregano from Bestia (Los Angeles)
Sunchoke gratin with fermented peanuts, tarragon, and pecorino from Gardner (Austin)
Crispy sunchokes with gooseberries, chili, and trout roe from Lula Cafe (Chicago)

Little Gem lettuce

Move over butter lettuce, your little bro is cornering the trendy-greens market. Literally a descendent of butter lettuce (and romaine), Little Gem combines the rich flavors and hearty crunch of its parent plants into a new supergreen with a name so adorable it's destined for a T-shirt.

Notable preparations:
Little Gems with radish, tarragon, citrus, white truffle, and mustard vinaigrette from Estrella (Los Angeles)
Little Gem salad with avocado, market vegetables, and citrus vinaigrette from Marlowe (San Francisco)
Little Gem salad with nectarine, spiced cashews, goat cheese, and green peppercorn from Upland (New York City)

Beets

Although much more familiar than something like sunchokes or celeriac, beets have only recently graduated to the glamour-vegetable class. The bold color and powerful earthy flavors have made it a favorite of creative chefs looking to brighten up traditional entrees, but it also works just as well taking center stage.

Notable preparations:
Beets with parsnip, orange, and ginger at Little Octopus (Nashville)
Roasted beets with creme fraiche, hazelnut, and Honeycrisp from Boka (Chicago)
Roasted beets with celery root, tonnato, and pistachio granola from Walrus and the Carpenter (Seattle)

Cauliflower

No longer just a bland winter vegetable, cauliflower might have the most kale-like momentum of anything on this list. Any restaurateur with a Lucky Peach subscription is likely to have roasted cauliflower on their menu and to have earned frivolous bonus points if it was a rarer yellow, green, or purple variety. 

Notable preparations:
Roasted cauliflower with raisin, caper, pine nut, and Concord grape from Avant Garden (New York)
Cauliflower with grapes, almond, cilantro, and sultana from Otium (Los Angeles)
Roasted cauliflower salad with Meyer lemon, medjool date, and toasted almond from Octavia (San Francisco)

Persimmon

Sure, persimmon is technically a fruit not a veggie, but it's worth including on this list because, much like kale, it's become the darling of the salad world. 

Notable preparations:
Persimmon with kinako and black sesame from State Bird Provisions (San Francisco)
Persimmon salad with pomegranate, pecans, field greens, and reduced balsamic from Gracias Madre (Los Angeles)
Chicory salad with persimmon, Asian pear, toasted almonds, and Meyer lemon vinaigrette from Coquine (Portland)

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Dan Gentile is a staff writer at Thrillist. He hopes that these vegetables all keep kaling it (!) in 2016. Follow him to bad vegetable puns at @Dannosphere.