Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cooking with Kohlrabi

Last Saturday I stoped by the market stand of one of my favorite vendors, Fertile Crescent. Amid the beautiful piles of crisp, dewy lettuce, collards, kale, radish, and beets lay a cluster of that strange alien like produce called Kohlrabi. I confess that I have bought Kohlrabi twice before over the last 18 months, and in both instances I ended up tossing the veg. onto the compost heap after housing it in my fridge for multiple months. Absolute laziness had won out over "culinary exploration", and as it turns out, for no good reason at all.
This time the vendor, (also looking for cooking suggestions) convinced me to buy the stuff one more time and give it a go. As fate would have it, Kohlrabi seems to be "The hot new vegetable," and miss Martha herself did a full page spread on it in the June issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. Three ways to prepare Kohlrabi are provided, all very different, and all easy. I decided I would try all three.
Kohlrabi is a brassica, long ago modified from wild mustard greens. The hard ball at the base has a texture somewhat like the base of a large head of cabbage, but somehow more starchy. The flavor can vary somewhat depending on the variety ranging from ever so slightly spicy, to a fresh slight cucumber flavor. Both the base and the greens are edible. The three Martha recipes utilize all the elements of kohlrabi, which is great fresh, baked, or sauteed with the greens.

The first one I tried was kohlrabi chips. Perfect with my tuna melt, the kohlrabi chips have all the goodness of homemade potato chips, but with a really nice flavor. Left unpeeled, sliced very thin, tossed with olive oil and course salt the kohlrabi is cooked slowly in a 250 degree oven for anywhere from 35min to 1 hour. Rotate the cooking sheet a few time throughout the cooking time. The chips take rather a long time. Mine took 45 minutes to finish. I flipped mine on the sheet as well as turning the sheet around a couple times. The trick without a mandolin is getting those round spheres with all their funny little nubs to slice in very thin rounds. I ended up with lots of little half rounds, and bits. Still they tasted great, and I would happily have them in substitute for fries, or potato chips.

I still have to try the yummy sounding slaw made from kohlrabi and apple matchsticks (perfect for fall), as well as the cubed kohlrabi simmered with its own greens, and other produce in a cream sauce. What a fantastically versatile, cool season vegetable! Hopefully I'll find time to post on the other recipes as well, but regardless don't you be shy about trying this lesser known, but noteworthy vegetable.


  1. Great photos, Shan! Great post too- yum!

  2. We had some in our CSA last year. I sauted them up w/squash and made empanadas from a recipe looted from the interweb. Just google it.
    They were a hit, and will do the same with them this year, and try your recipes, too.

  3. When I first tried kohlrabi two years ago(from Victory Farms) I immediately began saying it was my new favorite vegetable. It's got such a deep flavor and a long finish if you season it and caramelize it a bit. The stuff keeps me coming back.

    For instance, I made a kohlrabi pizza tonight that totally kicked ass.

    The layers were like this:
    -Dough with some olive oil.
    -Slices of 1/4 kohlrabi chips, pan-fried with EVOO and salt until golden.
    -Par-boiled mustard greens, chopped and mixed with a garlicky herbed white sauce.
    -Light scattering of shredded mozzarella.

    Try this, I dare you.