Broccoli is a member of the family Brassicaceae, also known as the cabbage family, along with Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and radishes. We eat the flower buds of the plant before they bloom. The stalks are also edible, but they have a tougher texture. The plant’s primitive ancestor is native to Asia Minor, but a significant amount of its development occurred in southern Italy.
Cauliflower is also in the Brassicaceae family, with a head comprised of flower buds. It is believed that it was cultivated in Egypt as early as the 4th century B.C. and has a parallel history to that of broccoli. Cauliflower has a compact, typically white head, that is covered in many layers of green leaves.
Broccoli and cauliflower can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled or roasted and absorb flavors well. Their “heads” are comprised of flower buds. If eating the veggies raw, experiment with dipping sauces, such as hummus; if eating them cooked, try a stir fry!
- Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C and the mineral potassium; it is a good source of B9 (folic acid) and dietary fiber. Similar to other members of Brassicaceae, broccoli contains beta carotenes.
- Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin B9 (folic acid) and C, as well as the mineral potassium.
- Broccoli was developed from the flower of wild cabbage.
- Broccoli and cauliflower are referred to as inflorescent (arrangement of flowers on a stem) vegetables, along with artichokes.
- White cauliflower heads lack color because they have undeveloped chlorophyll.