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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Welcome back, kohlrabi

It's been a long time since we've met.

Up until about two years ago, I had never heard of kohlrabi. When we started Carolina Grown, this vegetable started popping up on the menu. One week, I said "what the heck" and ordered some it to try. The first kohlrabi I had was of the purple variety.

At first, I didn't know what to do with this funny shaped vegetable, so I took out my trusty veggie book, "From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce" to figure out what exactly kohlrabi was.

My initial thought was that it was a root vegetable. Wrong. The edible part of the kohlrabi, according to the book, "the edible globe is the modified swollen stem." Kohlrabi is actually related to broccoli,  but "kohl, meaning 'cabbage,' and rabi, meaning 'turnip'" may actually better define the taste of this vegetable. Some botanists believe that kohlrabi may actually be a hybrid of those two vegetables.

Like other vegetables that may be bought with leaves or stalks still attached, it's best to separate the globes from the leaves when storing. The globes actually last quite a while when refrigerated. The leaves/greens should be eaten as soon as possible.

I looked around for various recipes, trying to find the easiest recipe that would give me a good idea of the taste of the vegetable without covering it up too much. I opted to roast it:

Roasted kohlrabi slices
  • Kohlrabi, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2.  Combine olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss kohlrabi slices in the olive oil mixture to coat. Spread kohlrabi in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until browned, 15 to 20 minutes, flipping occasionally in order to brown evenly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven to allow the Parmesan cheese to brown, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately. 
After taking these out of the oven and serving them with dinner, I remember my husband and I staring at each other, wondering how this strange vegetable would turn out, while, at the same time, encouraging our young daughter to eat her vegetables. We (especially my veggie-suspicious hubby) loved the kohlrabi, and my daughter's dinner consisted of mostly vegetables that night.

I didn't get a chance to get kohlrabi last season, so I was ecstatic when I saw it available this week. I ordered some up and plan on trying a new recipe to celebrate. 

If you have never tried it, I encourage it. Exploration to new fruits and veggies  is a must, and a great way to wake up your taste buds and add new things to your diet. Kohlrabi, by the way, is full of Vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and potassium and fiber, and only has 40 calories per cup. 

This vegetable can be eaten raw, so try slicing it into salads or adding to coleslaw. It can be steamed, sauteed, added to soups or stir-fry, grilled, mashed, and more. I think I will try marinating it and grilling it. 

Have a favorite kohlrabi recipe? Share it here or email vicky@carolinagrown.org.

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