The name comes from the Italian word for "cabbage sprout" and indeed, broccoli is a relative of cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. This deep emerald-green vegetable (which sometimes has a purple tinge) comes in tight clusters of tiny buds that sit on stout, edible stems. It's available year-round, with a peak season from October through April. Look for broccoli with a deep, strong color green, or green with purple; the buds should be tightly closed and the leaves crisp. Refrigerate unwashed, in an airtight bag, for up to four days. If the stalks are tough, peel before cooking. Broccoli, a member of the cruciferous family, is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as riboflavin, calcium and iron.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.