A cruciferous vegetable related to cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, broccoli is a supermarket mainstay year-round, but it peaks in the U.S. between October and April. The ingredient pairs well with bold and pungent flavors: Roasted broccoli, caramelized with garlic, olive oil, and a pinch of crushed red chile, adds depth to stacks of lasagne; steamed or boiled florets can be blended into a brilliant lemon-kissed pistou to bolster vegetable soup; and stir-fried spears make a quick meal when tossed with firm tofu, ginger, toasted sesame oil, lime juice, and fish sauce. Before serving broccoli completely raw in a salad or on a crudité plate, consider blanching it for just a minute or two and then shocking it in ice water for a brilliant green hue and a crisp-tender texture.
HOW TO BUY
Florets should be deep green with tight cluster of buds and no yellowing. Stalks should be bright green and firm, with crisp leaves. The freshest broccoli will still have a moist cut end.
HOW TO STORE
Broccoli keeps best when cold. Store it, unwashed, in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer and consume it within a few days.
HOW TO PREPARE
Give broccoli a rinse under cold water and rotate the head to cut away small spears. Trim the stem end by an inch or two and use a peeler or small knife to cut away tough outer layers, if needed. Slice the stem into sticks or rounds.