Thursday, June 17, 2010


Kohlrabi - Brassica Oleracea var. gongylodes

Kohlrabi means "cabbage turnip" in German.  It belongs to the cabbage family and has been around for at least 500 years so far as we know.  It is especially popular in  Central European countries and has not been available commercially in this country until fairly recently.

 When it is young and not too big (less than 3 inches in diameter) - it is known for its mild, delicate, peppery and even sweet flavor and its crunchy, juicy and crisp texture.  It is not a root vegetable, even though it looks like one.  The bulb grows above ground and is really a swollen stem.  It can be eaten raw or cooked.  The leaves can be prepared in the same way as turnip or collard greens. (fairly long braising)  Unless very small and young, the bulbs should be peeled prior to eating or cooking.

Kohlrabi can be boiled, steamed, sauteed or braised.  It can be shredded, cubed, julienned or mashed.
It is very compatible with many seasonings and flavors, such as bacon, dill, caraway, cream (what isn't compatible with cream?), onion, garlic, ginger,  nutmeg, thyme, mustard, lemon and parsley.

Some people describe the taste of kohlrabi as similar to a radish.  Some say it is like a combination of cucumber and broccoli.  Whatever it tastes like, some people are crazy about it.  This is what The New Basics cookbook had to say: "Kohlrabi, once tasted, can become an obsession, for it seems to exude freshness - almost a peppery version of broccoli."

Separate the leaves from the bulb.  Do not wash until ready to eat.  The leaves can be stored in a bag in the refrigerator for a week or so.  If the bulb is stored in an open or perforated plastic bag, it should keep several weeks.  My sources did not agree on storage time.  The range for a refrigerated bulb was 5 days to one month.  Since your CSA kohlrabi is very fresh when you get it, I think you could store it for at least 3 weeks if you needed or wanted to.

Kohlrabi is very high in vitamins C  - a one cup serving supplies 149% of your daily requirement.  It is also high in fiber and potassium.  One cup is only 40 calories.

Serving Suggestions
Last night I decided to julienne a bulb of kohlrabi.  Once it was peeled and cut up, I put it into a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes.  It was still tender crisp when I drained it.  Then I sauteed it in about 2 t. of butter and added about 1/3 cup of heavy cream, about 2 T. chopped fresh dill and a little salt and pepper.

I cooked that a few more minutes, cover off, until the cream reduced by about half.  We ate it as a vegetable side dish.  One bulb was enough for three servings.

Because of its fresh taste,  this dish could stand up quite well to something like fried fish or chicken.  Or even baked ham or a pork roast.  We had it with pinto beans, greens and brown rice.

Kohlrabi serving ideas - remember to peel  before cooking or eating unless very young and tender)

Raw Kohlrabi
Slice -about 1/4 inch.  Dip halfway into fresh lime juice and then chili powder.  Arrange on plate.

Slice or cut into sticks.  Serve with other fresh raw vegetables as part of a crudite platter with favorite dip.

Grate. Squeeze moisture out.  Mix with beaten egg, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper,  minced onion.  (about 1 egg, 2 T. onion and 2 T. crumbs per cup of grated kohlrabi.  Add other herbs or spices to taste.)  Fry patties in hot , butter, olive oil or other fat.  These patties would be nice served with plain yogurt and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Grate or cut into small sticks or cubes.  Mix with equal amount of grated or cut up fresh apple.  Add a mustard vinaigrette sweetened with a little honey or maple syrup.  Makes a lovely salad or side dish.

Thinly slice or coarsely grate kohlrabi.   Spread butter or cream cheese on two slices of good quality dark pumpernickel bread.  Sprinkle with fresh or dried dill or caraway if desired.  Place slices of kohlrabi on bread and lightly salt.  Eat open faced or as a regular sandwich.  This would be excellent with a little summer sausage.

Grate or cut into very thin strips.  Use as you would cabbage to make coleslaw.  Good with grated carrot, onion and chopped parsley or dill.  I would add some fresh or powdered mustard and a pinch of sugar.

Cooked Kohlrabi

Steam or boil cubed kohlrabi about 10-15 minutes or until tender.  Mash with a little butter, salt and pepper.  Can also be mashed with cooked potatoes in desired proportion.

Cube and roast like you would carrots, rutabagas or parsnips.

Julienne (that means cut into little sticks about 1/4 inch thick).  Stir fry with garlic, ginger, cashews, carrots and shitake mushrooms.  Add a few spoons each of soy sauce and rice wine, a teaspoon of sesame oil and a pinch of sugar.  Serve with rice or rice noodles.

Cube and add to soup or stew.  Kohlrabi would be good in a Hungarian Goulash type of stew - with pork or beef, onion, peppers, paprika and sour cream or creme fraiche.

Bonus Recipe - added September 23, 2010
Kohlrabi-radish salad
1 1/2 pounds grated or julienned kohlrabi and radish (about 2/3 kohlrabi and 1/3 radish) - about 8 cups total
3 T. onion - finely chopped or grated
1/2 cup fresh parsley and dill, combined as desired (lightly packed)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 T. sugar
1/3 cup yogurt
1 T. dijon mustard
salt and pepper

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