Posted by: Rachel | July 25, 2011

consider the kohlrabi…

“Consider,” my new friend said, “if you have time, consider the kohlrabi“.

“Really?,” you may be thinking, “must we?”. After all, how lovely can something called (roughly) a “cabbage-turnip” actually, be? Well, I am here to tell you that if you don’t know this oddball of a Brassica, then you are missing out on a marvelous vegetable two-fer.

The thing about kohlrabi is, both ends are wonderful. It is one of the push-me-pull-you delights of the vegetable world. But the other vegetables that fall into this category (beets, for instance, and turnips) are more approachable, appearing more like proper vegetables than something that might live in the ocean.

baby kohlrabi, green and purple

pretty, weird, but not pretty weird

Kohlrabi puts folks off. My vegetable guy tells me that he is regularly asked to remove the leaves, that his custom only wants the bulbous fleshy part. I told him that I would happily give him my phone number so that he could call me — I’ll take any part I can get my hands on!

The interesting thing (if the mere appearance isn’t interesting enough!) is that, to me at least, the two ends of this wonder taste completely different. The strange yet beautiful orb that sits (to the confusion of those expecting it to be a proper root vegetable) just above the ground tastes, to me, like a young delicate radish. I’ve heard “oh it tastes like apple, like jicama, like potato but sweeter…”

I think it tastes like the earliest radishes that grow in France in the spring, crisp and sweet yet with a slight tang, the ones that are served as an appetizer with a bit of fresh sweet butter and a pinch of fleur de sel. Mmmm…

kohlrabi, chickpeas, and onion

greens 'n' um, chickpeas

I won’t bore you with another variation of greens and beans; you know how to do this as well as I do! Still, the greens and the chopped stems (of both colors – I like to mix them) of the kohlrabi are excellent in the pot with some sautéed onion, garlic, maybe a can of fire-roasted tomatoes (if your garden tomatoes, like mine, have come and gone already)…

Oh and this time I opted for chickpeas and some pancetta. So… you know the drill!

kohlrabi slices

got butter? mmm...

Turning to the other end of the kohlrabi, the beautiful purple- or light green-skinned “meat” can be eaten out of hand, shredded for slaw, chopped fairly fine and added to a potato or chicken or tuna salad for some crunch, or you can quarter the slightly ovate part and oven roast it as you would potatoes, parsnips, or other more rootish veggies.

Oh and, I don’t bother to peel it, especially if it is young, small, and tender. I think it is prettier “skin on”. I’m thinking it could be pickled as well, but I haven’t tried that yet. Have any of you? Mmmm…

So, no recipe specifics or specific recipes this time, just some thoughts on overall deliciousness as we consider the kohlrabi…

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Responses

  1. You’ve made it sound so tempting and brought back memories of when I grew it years ago. Maybe I should grow it again. Your tomato season sounds very short – did they ripen very early?

    • I put my tomatoes in back in early February and ate them last month. Earlier than usual, and no “second round” this year, the drought here is awful and the heat is worse than usual. But, eternal optimist that I am (I think that the definition of “optimist” should read “Texas gardener”) I may put in a second crop in a few weeks. My basil is happy, though… more on that soon (grin)

  2. Like chaiselongue, am thinking I should try and grow this…love the post!

    • Are cabbage-y things a winter crop on your mountain? Here they certainly are… These came all the way from (shhhhh) California!!

  3. Awesome post. I’ve never heard of this and love learning new stuff. Now if only I could retain it all!

    • Kohlrabi is sort of unforgettable… it is definitely one of the weirder vegetables. Ask *your* vegetable guy (or gal) if they ever stock it – its worth a shot!

  4. I keep seeing it at the grocery store but didn’t know how to prepare it. Thank you. My nephew doesn’t live far from you and he keeps saying how bad the drought is. Hope you get relief.

    • Hey Karen, great to “meet” you! My sister lives up your way and I told her I just didn’t want to hear any more whining about too much rain! Guess its all or nothing, and we got the nothing! Ah well… thanks for stopping by – visit often!

  5. My wife turned me onto Kohlrabi a while back and now I insist she grows it in our garden. Great post!

  6. Thanks and thanks for stopping by. Where (roughly) do you garden? Is this a “winter” crop for you? I think I may have to try it myself this winter… meantime I’ll get that “imported” (California) stuff (grin)

    • We’re currently living in the Salt Lake City area and this year we planted the Kohlrabi in early-mid May (if I remember correctly). The leaves are delicious young, but not some much as the plant matures. Found out the hard way! 🙂

      • Too true! Its pretty much that way with all greens – young is tender, older is woody or just nasty! And, the little bulbs are wonderful! The ones in my pictures are closer to ping-pong ball than tennis ball size (referents for the sports-minded (grin)). Mmmm!


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