Raw kohlrabi—a small, purple- or green-skinned member of cabbage family also known as the ‘German Turnip’—is crisp like an apple and tastes something like a cross between cabbage and radish. I encountered this strange vegetable (which, without leaves, resembles a sort of rubber-shelled alien tomato) at my local farmer’s market last Tuesday (it can grow almost anywhere) and, tempted by its weirdness and 50-cent price tag, took two home with me, instructed by the seller to ‘bake it like a potato.’
A half cup of sliced raw kohlrabi has 19 calories, 2.5 grams fiber and is high in Vitamins A, C, and calcium. Of the two varieties, purple is sweeter (and most say better-tasting) than the green. Small, younger kohlrabi have the most flavor and softer, easier-to-cut outer shells; they can be eaten without peeling. Larger kohlrabi globes need to be peeled, so choose ones that are two and a half inches in diameter or smaller (about tennis ball size at the largest).
Consulting the Internet, I found many people seem to eat kohlrabi raw, sliced up apple-style or shredded and thrown in salads. Its leaves can also be cooked and eaten, its popular in Indian cuisine, and can be used in a number of vegetarian recipes. I sliced it thinly and sauteed it with olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper (because that’s my first instinct with everything), which worked in a pinch. Here’s an easy kohlrabi salad recipe from Worden Farms:
Mediterranean Kohlrabi Salad
Adapted from Harris’ Gardening Almanac
1 bulb kohlrabi
1 dozen radishes
1 green bell pepper
6-8 stalks scallions
half a lemon
2 tbsp. extra vergin olive oil
Dice all vegetables and toss into large bowl. Sprinkle salt to taste, squeeze juice of half a lemon into mixture, pour in olive oil and toss. The salad can be eaten immediately, but has fuller flavor if left to marinate in refridgerator for a few hours.
A few more ways to try it:
- Kohlrabi & Apple Slaw – Lighter than cabbage slaw and laced with lemon and fresh mint for a summery feel.
- Kohlrabi & Squash Empanadas – “It’s crisp and refreshing when sliced thin and eaten raw or grated into a slaw,but I actually like it even better when sauteed,” says this recipe’s creator. “It releases its juices and becomes almost buttery in texture.”
- Lentil Kohlrabi Salad – Pair kohlrabi with toasted sunflower seeds, sesame oil, onion, and lentils (which the EWG recently said have the lowest carbon footprint of food sources of protein).
Photo: Simply Recipes