Kohlrabi

Little in life is more enjoyable than sleeping in late on the first day of a long weekend. One wakes at their own pace, rubbing the sleep from their eyes, only to realize that this luxury is, as is so rarely the case, set to repeat itself twice over. From this realization, the heart fills easily with hope of finally achieving that long desired but ever-elusive restorative repose that only time off can bring.

This morning was of just that sort for me. Slithering from bed, I enjoyed a long  yawning stretch, and proceeded to skulk cat-wise out of doors to my garden where I basked myself in the sun’s warm morning rays. Rejuvenated with vitamin d, an inspection of my produce was the obvious next step. A better turn of events couldn’t have been asked for –  a bunch of kohlrabi were ready for harvest.

A lot of people have never heard of kohlrabi, but it is, without a doubt, my favorite vegetable of all time. In light of this, it should come as no surprise that it belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables, and shares the same spicy flavors, and crunchy texture of its relatives. Some say the taste and texture of kohlrabi is similar to that of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart. This is fairly accurate, but I think kohlrabi stands out from the rest on account of its powerful mineral flavors – there is an undeniably strong earthy taste to this wonderbulb. Nothing really tastes quite like it. The name even goes to proving this point, as in german kohlrabi literally means cabbage turnip – an attempt on the part of the germans to name it by its category defying flavor.

Unfortunately it is often hard to find in supermarkets, hence its relative obscurity. Doubly unfortunate, is the fact that when it does show up on store shelves, the bulbs are often past their prime, and extremely woody. That is why I planted so many in my garden! If you ever do find it at the store, make sure to pick some up, as it really is a treat. Good bulbs won’t be soft at all, and will still look fresh and crisp. Try to avoid the very large bulbs, as they are most often older and no longer very good, if at all edible. The smaller ones are typically young, fresh, crisp, and sweet, with a good touch of that cruciferous bite.

The ways in which kohlrabi can be prepared are countless. It can be eaten raw, or cooked. It can be used in Chinese-style stir frys, or sautéed in butter with onions, glazed in balsamic vinegar and roasted, shredded and made into a slaw, or served in the german style – baked and served in a cream sauce. The list really is endless. I know at this point you all are probably hoping for a recipe, however, I normally get so excited about kohlrabi that I just eat it up right away – raw and undoctored. And, remember, food writing need not be about recipes alone, but also simple introductions to new things in the delicious world of edible delights. But, don’t worry, this won’t be Kohlrabi’s last stand in the limelight. I’ll surely return with more recipes for it in the future.

To prepare the bulbs you have to peel them, as the outer skin is very tough, and woody. Unless you are some sort of tooth grinding werebeaver, this skin will really be quite inedible. A regular vegetable peeler won’t do the trick though, as most simply can’t handle the woody outer skin. So, instead, grab a very sharp kitchen knife, and slice off the top and bottom, then peel carefully, slice by slice. Make sure you go deep enough to get past the woody layer, which looks markedly different than the edible flesh on account of its noticeable striations. On the other hand, don’t cut too deep, as the best bulbs aren’t huge, and if you get too excited in your peeling, you’ll carve most of the edible flesh away too.

Like I said, I can rarely resist, and typically devour my Kohlrabi this way. Just slice the bulbs into wedges or slices, and sprinkle generously with sea salt. It is hard to imagine a better snack, and a better breakfast to begin a restful long weekend.

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2 Responses to “Kohlrabi”

  1. Martha Says:

    Lovely kohlrabim you have.

  2. David Klorig Says:

    I too have kohlrabi this year! I’ll make sure to eat it raw on some lazy weekend morning this summer…..

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