Broccoli vs. Cauliflower: What’s the Difference?

by Charlie
Difference Between Broccoli and Cauliflower

Broccoli (Brassica oleracea italica) and cauliflower (Brassica oleracea botrytis) share a lot of similarities. These similar round-shaped cruciferous vegetables are often used together in recipes. They are also used interchangeably in cooking.

Both Broccoli and cauliflower come from the same plant family (Brassicaceae) and genus (Brassica). These are known as the mustard family, which includes cabbage and kale.

What’s the difference between broccoli and cauliflower? The main difference between broccoli and cauliflower is the taste. Broccoli carries a strong green vegetable taste, while cauliflower is mild and a little sweet in taste.

Did you know that the United States is the third top producer of broccoli worldwide? 90% of crops are harvested in California, and broccoli is all harvested by hand.

What are Other Differences Between Broccoli and Cauliflower?

There are more differences between broccoli and cauliflower. Firstly, they differ in color. Broccoli florets are dark green, and the stalks are a lighter green, while cauliflower florets are creamy white, including the stalks.

Secondly, they also differ in appearance. Both are rounded, but broccoli has loosely clumped florets with easy-to-spot stalks and a long stem. Cauliflower has tightly clumped florets and leaves at the bottom.

Sometimes, you may see sprouting broccolis. These look like small cauliflowers that are creamy white or purple in color. These are edible and considered gourmet.

Thirdly, cauliflower florets cook faster than broccoli florets. When you boil them together, add cauliflower first. Wait about two minutes before adding the broccoli. Broccoli stems, on the other hand, cook longer. So you need to slice them thinly or add them first before adding the cauliflower and broccoli.

Is Broccolini Broccoli?

Broccolini looks very much like broccoli but with smaller florets and long, thin stalks. It is a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese cabbage (or Chinese Kale). It is closer to broccoli than to kale.

You can find it in stores labeled as broccolini, baby broccoli, aspiration, sweet baby broccoli, or broccolette.

Is Romanesco Broccoli Cauliflower?

Romanesco broccoli is also called Roman cauliflower and Romanesque cauliflower. It is one of two commonly called broccoflowers. Romanesco broccoli belongs to the same family and species as broccoli and cauliflower. And it belongs to the same cultivar as cauliflower. But it is neither broccoli nor cauliflower. It is mild, unlike broccoli, and it is sweeter than cauliflower. And unlike cauliflower, it is greenish. And it has a firm texture and a nutty taste. 

Is Broccoflower Cauliflower?

Brocoflower, particularly Green Cauliflower, is a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower. It looks very much like cauliflower, except that it has a lime green color.

What are Ways to Serve Broccoli?

Like other vegetables, you can boil broccoli in lightly salted water. You can cut some butter to melt in your serving of broccoli. Pepper it up a bit, and add shredded cheese if you like. Sprinkle more salt to taste.

Nothing beats steamed broccoli, of course. It’s the healthiest way to serve your broccoli. Steaming keeps more nutrients intact. Spice up your steamed broccoli using the previous steps for boiled ones.

You can also dice some broccoli and make fritters, omelets, and quiches.

Lastly, you can stir fry broccoli in garlic, onion, and oyster sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve with grilled meat or fish. Alternatively, you can saute ¼ to ½ pound of minced pork or beef in garlic and onion first, then add your broccoli.

Go for an Asian mix-in sauce by preparing ¼ cup soy sauce, 1 to 2 tbs. brown sugar, some sesame oil, ground ginger, sugar, and chili flakes. Mix in a small saucepan over medium heat until well blended. Stir into your dish, and it’s ready to serve. Enjoy it with rice.

You can also roast broccoli. Mix in some garlic-infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

What are Ways to Serve Cauliflower?

Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable you can use in the kitchen. The whole head, including the leaves are edible and can be cooked.

The health-conscious vegetarian or weight loss watcher can use it as an alternative to rice. It’s very easy to make. Here is how you do it:

  1. Get a small head of cauliflower.
  2. Remove any greens.
  3. Don’t wash them yet.
  4. Pulse in a processor until they become tiny bits like rice.
  5. Place in a strainer or colander and wash in running water.
  6. Heat a skillet with some oil.
  7. Lightly sauté the cauliflower rice.
  8. Serve with your main dish.

Cauliflower is best consumed freshly cooked/prepared as it doesn’t keep for long.

Some make healthy creamy white sauces out of cauliflower and pour them over pasta in place of the usual, calorie-packed white sauces. It’s simple to make. Here is how you do it:

  1. Get a head of cauliflower.
  2. Remove any leaves and start cutting into florets.
  3. Steam over boiling water or place in a pot with enough boiling water to sink the florets. Remove when tender. About 5 to 10 minutes depending on the method.
  4. Transfer florets to a blender or food processor. Add in some of the cooking water, and add some more to make it less creamy or to thin it out.
  5. Put in some sautéed minced garlic and a bit of olive oil. Be generous with the amount, particularly if you love garlic!
  6. Season with pepper, chili flakes, and some salt.
  7. Pulse until you get the desired consistency. About 1 minute or so.
  8. Pour over pasta and top it with parmesan or cheddar cheese for more taste.

Since the water is hot, remember to take the vent cap off and just use a paper towel over it. This helps release any steam that could cause your blender lid to pop.

Final Thoughts

  • Broccoli has a strong green vegetable taste, while cauliflower is mild and has a sweet taste.
  • Cauliflower cooks faster than broccoli.
  • Broccoflowers are sweeter than broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Broccoflowers are a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Broccoli has dark green florets while cauliflower has creamy white florets.

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