January 4th, 2012 "Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education," or at least that’s how Mark Twain thought about this elegant member of the Brassica family. Its name derives from the Latin for "cabbage flower" since it is an unusual member of this group whose members usually produce only leafy greens such as kale, collards, broccoli, and brussle sprouts. Cauliflower traces back to the wild cabbage that originated in Asia Minor, and went through many transformations until it reappeared in the Mediterranean region, where it was an important vegetable in Turkey and Italy since at least 600 BCE. Cauliflower has a long history in Italy and France, having been introduced to France from Genoa in the sixteenth century. From France it spread to the United Kingdom and North America. There are four major groups of cauliflower, all derived from one ancestor, the "Italian" variety: diverse in appearance, this variety ranges in colour, including white, green, purple, brown and yellow. The others include Northwest European biennial, Northern European annuals, and a tropical Asian variety. While white is the most common form of cauliflower, orange cauliflower contains twenty-five times the level of Vitamin A of white varieties. Green cauliflower is sometimes called broccoflower or Romanesco broccoli. Purple cauliflower is purple due to the presence of the antioxidant group called anthocynanins, also found in red cabbage and red wine. Cauliflower has a compact head (called a "curd") of undeveloped flower buds. The flowers are attached to a central stalk, similar to broccoli. Surrounding the curd are ribbed, coarse green leaves that protect the flower head from sunlight, impeding the development of chlorophyll, blanching it of colour. In between the leaves and florets are smaller, tender leaves that are edible. Said Oliver de Serres (a French author and soil scientist in the seventeenth century), "they hold an honorable place in the garden because of their delicacy. " Raw cauliflower is firm, yet slightly spongy in texture. It is slightly sulfurous and faintly bitter. The milky, sweet, almost nutty flavour of cauliflower is best from December to March. To use, separate Cauliflower head into florets and let sit for five minutes, then wash. Cauliflower can be eaten raw or cooked in a number of ways, including boiling, baking, and sautéing. Whole cauliflower heads may also be cooked in one piece. Adding a tablespoon of lemon juice or a cup of milk to cooking water will prevent discolouration. It pairs nicely with tumeric, so for a simple dish, try adding a teaspoon of the spice to the skillet when sautéing cauliflower. Cauliflower soup is easy too: just steam and puree cauliflower with some stock, adding fennel seeds, salt, and pepper. Curried cauliflower is a popular Indian dish, try making an Aloo Gobi, a mild curried cauliflower and potato dish. As an excellent source of vitamin C, and a very good source of manganese, cauliflower provides us with two core conventional antioxidants. As an excellent source of vitamin K, cauliflower provides us with one of the hallmark anti-inflammatory nutrients. Vitamin K acts as a direct regulator of our inflammatory response. The fiber content of cauliflower - nearly 12 grams in every 100 calories - makes this cruciferous vegetable a great choice for digestive system support. You're going to get nearly half of the fiber Daily Value from 200 calories' worth of cauliflower. Refrigerate raw cauliflower, tightly wrapped, for 3-5 days; cooked for 1-3 days.