You have probably seen kohlrabi, also called cabbage turnip, in the supermarket or at farmers’ markets recently and wondered what to do with it.
This knobby purple or green bulbous vegetable with spiky stems will not win any awards for beauty, and perhaps that's why this versatile and delicious vegetable is underappreciated.
Its distinctive flavor — think cabbage and broccoli — is too good to ignore. Kohlrabi can be eaten raw or cooked, and tastes a little like broccoli stems, but milder and somewhat sweeter.
You can steam, boil, bake, grill, or roast kohlrabi after peeling away the outer thick skin first. Raw kohlrabi can be sliced in a salad, grated into a slaw or simply thinly sliced on a mandoline and drizzled with a little olive oil and salt.
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When served raw, it has a crisp texture and a mild peppery bite sort of like a sweet radish. It makes a delicious pureed soup on its own, or it can be added to soups, such as cream of potato, cream of broccoli or vegetable soup for a distinctive flavor.
Kohlrabi fritters are made using shredded kohlrabi mixed with egg and flour or breadcrumbs and fried until both sides are crispy.
Toss chunks of kohlrabi with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper, and pinch of cayenne and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast at 450 degrees, stirring every 10 minutes, until tender and golden, about 30 minutes. Toss with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
The leaves are edible and can be cooked up like kale or collard greens.
Along with other cruciferous vegetables, kohlrabi is low in calories and packed with vitamin C and potassium.
Choose kohlrabi with unblemished leaves and a bulb that’s heavy for its size; the bulb should not be cracked. Cut off leaves, wrap them in a damp paper towel, and place in an unsealed plastic bag. Leaves can be refrigerated for three to four days; the bulb stays fresh for about 2 weeks.
Kohlrabi Carpaccio with Collard Ribbons, Pears, Pistachios and Lime-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Adapted from The Vegetable Butcher by Cara Mangini, Workman Publishing Company ($29.99)
The creaminess and pear notes of 2014 Harken Chardonnay from California’s Salinas Valley ($15) harmonizes with the pear flavors in this salad.
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra as needed
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound kohlrabi, peeled deeply, thinly sliced on a mandoline into 1/16-inch-thick rounds or half-moons
1 large garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
10-12 ounces collard greens or kale, rinsed with some water clinging to the leaves, stems and ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced into 1/4-inch-thick ribbons (about 6 cups)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
Flaked sea salt
1 Bosc pear, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/3 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
Manchego, ricotta salata, or aged Jack cheese, for topping
Whisk together the lime juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the 1/8 teaspoon of pepper in a medium-size bowl. Slowly whisk in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil until combined. Place the kohlrabi slices in the vinaigrette and set aside to marinate. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a deep sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the wet collards, a little at a time if needed to fit the pan. Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and cook, turning the greens with tongs, until they are just starting to wilt, about 1 minute. Add 1/3 cup of water (or up to 1/2 cup if your collards are not slightly wet from rinsing). Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the greens are tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue to cook until any remaining water evaporates. Add the butter or olive oil and cook, turning the collards until coated, about 1 minute. Set out up to 6 salad plates to compose each salad individually. Lift the kohlrabi from the vinaigrette with tongs, allowing excess vinaigrette to drip off, and transfer about 6 slices to each plate (or enough to cover it with some overlap). Sprinkle the kohlrabi with flaked sea salt and top with a heap of greens, about 1/4 cup per plate. Sprinkle with the pear and pistachios and lightly drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette. Use a vegetable peeler to shave slivers of cheese over the top. Finish with more flaked sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Yield: 6 servings