Space Age Vegetable: Kohlrabi

Although kohlrabi’s mysterious origins potentially date back to 14th century France, kohlrabi, without doubt, boasts a new-age look, like some sort of science fiction created vegetable that busted out of the stratosphere and onto my cutting board here on Earth.  To be quite frank, it has an intimidating appearance that can leave even the most seasoned veteran of a cook bewildered.  Truly unique in its’ look, kohlrabi is a perennial vegetable with a bulbous bottom, that grows above ground, with hearty leaves protruding upward that can be used interchangeably with collards, kale, or turnip greens.

Unlike many other esoteric vegetables of its’ caliber, many American chefs and those at the forefront of the foodie scene are slow to catch on to the remarkable potential of this veggie.  That being said, kohlrabi is commonly used in German speaking countries and Asia, specifically India.  In fact, the word kohlrabi is derived from the German terms kohl, meaning cabbage, and rabi, meaning turnip.

Kohlrabi has a mild and slightly sweet flavor that can best be likened to that of broccoli stalks.  While it is in the brassica family and therefore is related to cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and others, its’ flavor is far more delicate.  This is one of the first harvests of our “spring” crop of kohlrabi.  Again, due to our extremely cold and snowy April, this first crop of kohlrabi has matured a bit later than anticipated, but is here in all its glory, nonetheless.  However, generally speaking, this would be a 55-60 day crop.  At Aspen Moon Farm, we grow two varieties of kohlrabi – the Korridor which is pale green/white in color and the Azur Star which is lilac purple in color.  Despite their color differentiation, the flavor remains the same and the flesh color also alike.

Rich in fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C, kohlrabi is surprisingly easy to handle in the kitchen.  The thick outer skin must be peeled, but other than this, there are very few rules.  While my favorite way to eat kohlrabi is raw in a salad or slaw, it is also fabulous cut into bite-sized pieces, tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper, than wrapped in aluminum foil and tossed on the grill for literally only a few minutes.  Or utilize this recipe at your next barbeque:

Cabbage and Kohlrabi Slaw – courtesy of Food Network

Peel 1 medium kohlrabi and cut into matchsticks. Whisk the juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/4 cup chopped dill (or whatever herb suits your fancy), 1/2 clove minced garlic, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, and salt and pepper in a bowl; whisk in 3 tablespoons olive oil. Toss with the kohlrabi, 1/4 head shredded Savoy cabbage, and salt and pepper to taste.

Also included in this week’s CSA share (will vary depending on pick-up location):
Salad mix or head lettuce

Kale or swiss chard

Basil or sorrel

Heirloom or red tomatoes

Beets

Radicchio or kohlrabi

Red torpedo or Valencia onions

 

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