A member of the Brassica genus, which also includes broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts, cauliflower originated in Asia and has been a European favorite since the 1500s; the vegetable was introduced in the U.S. in the early 1900s. Types include the familiar white cauliflower, colored varieties like yellow and purple cauliflower, and the striking romanesco, which grows in a swirling, fractal-like pattern. Available year-round, it is most plentiful in the spring and fall, when it can be found at farmers' markets across the country. Cauliflower's mild, delicate flavor lends itself well to both raw and cooked preparations; we love it sliced raw as a crudité; roasted and tossed with pasta; fried and bathed in lemon juice; thinly sliced and marinated in a raw salad; and pickled with cabbage, carrots, and plenty of spices.
HOW TO BUY
Look for firm, dense heads with tight clusters and crisp leaves. Avoid cauliflower with bruises, brown spots, or other blemishes.
HOW TO STORE
Store cauliflower heads in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two days. Cooked cauliflower can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
HOW TO PREPARE
Scrape off any brown spots and rinse cauliflower under cold water. Remove the outer leaves and reserve if using. Cauliflower is cooked through when the flesh is just tender enough to pierce with a fork.