Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Know Your Vegetables: Kohlrabi

At the Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. I spotted a fresh batch of these at the New Beginning Farm stand. A sweet little boy looked at it with wide brown eyes and asked what it was. I was happy to tell him: It's a model of the space ship that New Beginning owner Donnie Cline used to come to Earth. (For fans of Donnie, that would explain a lot, wouldn't it?)

OK, OK, then I told the kid it was kohlrabi. He seemed to like the spaceship idea better. Kids.

Kohlrabi is sort of like a cross between a turnip and a cabbage, although it belongs to the cabbage (brassica) family. Like turnips, it can be a little peppery, but it also cooks up sweet and mild.

You can cut off the little arms (they kind of remind me of lobster arms -- more trouble to suck the little meat out of them than they're worth) and you can peel the kohlrabi if it's larger or older. Succulent little fresh ones like this can be used with the peel on if you prefer. And if you get one with the leaves attached, those are edible too.

You can cut it into strips and add kohlrabi to stir-fries, or you can use it raw. Shredded kohlrabi makes a nice crunchy addition to coleslaw, or shred it and toss it with diced apples for a crunchy fruit salad.

I only had the one small one, about the size of a cue ball. I ended up dicing it, simmering it in a mixture of broth and water for about 20 minutes, and then tossing it with a fast sauce I made from sauteed wild mushrooms, some slow-cooked onions I simmered up this weekend, and a few big spoons of the tomato oil from Duke's Bread at the Atherton Market.

Next time, I think I'll try the pureed kohlrabi from Sheila Lukins' and Julee Rosso's "New Basics Cookbook." I saw an internet post that claimed it's out of this world. Which would be oddly fitting, wouldn't it?

Kohlrabi Puree
Adapted from "The New Basics Cookbook" and

4 kohlrabi bulbs, with leaves if possible
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces fresh mushrooms
3 tablespoons cream, milk or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim the kohlrabi, peeling if necessary. Trim off the leaves and set aside. Cut the bulbs into 1-inch cubes.
Place the cubes in a small saucepan, cover with water, add a little salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes, until fork-tender.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet while the kohlrabi cooks. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and the kohlrabi leaves, cover and cook 5 minutes. Remove lid and cook until any liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and set aside.
Drain the kohlrabi chunks and place in a food processor with the mushroom mixture. Puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper and return to the saucepan to rewarm before serving.
(Or puree the kohlrabi in the pan with an immersion blender. You also could leave the mushroom mixture the way it is and serve it over the kohlrabi puree.)


Anonymous said...

they make a great augratin too...

Anonymous said...

Why kill yourself with all that work?

Kohlrabi is delicious cut into slices and eaten fresh like a carrot. Keep them in a bowl of water in teh refrigerator up to a week, grazing on them as a snack. Harvest them when less than the size of a baseball though, otherwise the flesh is fibrous and woody and not as sweet.

Karen said...

To me they taste and have the consistancy similar to a raddish. My mother grew them and we would eat it raw.

Barbara Palermo said...

I know kohlrabi, but I never thought to make a puree: excellent idea!

Joe said...

It works well in a gratin with a bit of ham thrown in too!