I’d seen kohlrabi in the supermarket but never bought any, partly because (a) it was $3.99 a pound and (b) that seemed high for something I didn’t know if I liked. But I was at the farmers market last week and a very old man in a straw cowboy hat persuaded me to buy one for $1.75 and see if I liked it.
Of course then I had to look up what to do with it once I got it home. It definitely didn’t look like any vegetable I had dealt with before, kind of outer-spacey like a Jetsons vegetable.
- The name comes from kohl = German for cabbage, rabi – Swiss/German for turnip.
- Kohlrabi is one of those cruciferous vegetables, meaning it’s linked to a group of vegetables thought to be important in fighting cancer.
- They can be cooked or eaten raw.
- There are green varieties and purple varieties.
- They can be roasted, steamed, sauteed, made into soups, fritters, pickled, grilled, stir fried, or eaten raw.
- Kohlrabi is very common in Kashmir where it is made into curries.
- Kohlrabi leaves are similar in taste and texture to collards or kale and can be used the same way.
That’s your lesson for the day.
What I did with it: I cut off the stems where they attached to the bulb and put them in the refrigerator crisper drawer. Then I peeled the very tough skin off the bulb. This required a paring knife, not a vegetable peeler; the skin is thick and did not let go easily. Once the skin was removed, I sliced the softball-sized bulb into thin circles and then into half-circles. We ate them sprinkled with a little salt. The flesh is juicy and crisp like jicama; it’s lightly reminiscent of cucumber, cabbage, and turnip with a slightly gingery taste. It was a refreshing little snack before dinner on a hot day.
A few days later, I took the plastic bag containing the leafy stems out of the fridge. The stems are quite tough so I tore those away from the leaves and threw them away. I cut the leaves into small pieces and added them to a tossed green salad mixed with red leaf lettuce (about 1/3 kohlrabi to 2/3 lettuce), sweet red onion, cucumbers, chopped raw broccoli, and sliced mushrooms. I made a dressing with lime juice, olive oil, agave nectar, dry mustard, and chopped garlic, which was light enough to compliment the leaf lettuce but garlicky enough to stand up to the strongly-flavored leaves.
If your CSA box contains kohlrabi, don’t add it to the compost. They aren’t as scary as they look. Use it to jazz up a crudité plate, make it into a quick pickle or a Kashmiri curry. Once I got past the weirdness factor and tried it, I liked it.