Three or four years ago, my husband's co-worker gave him two kohlrabi, two giant kohlrabi. Normally kohlrabi is about the size of an apple or orange, weighing about 6-10 ounces each. But these were huge, each one weighing twenty pounds! I would have expected them to be woody and not very tasty. But I was wrong. These mega-veggies were tasty and juicy.
What is kohlrabi?
You’re not alone if you're wondering what kohlrabi is. This poor orphan of the vegetable world is often ignored. As the name suggests, it’s in the brassica, or cabbage, family. It's like a strange alien-looking green apple with kale leaves sticking out of the top. Think of it as a kind of swollen cabbage or broccoli stem with a few leaves on top.
If you’ve peeled and eaten a broccoli stem, then you have an idea of what kohlrabi tastes like. Kohlrabi's taste and texture is very similar, a little bit crisper and a little bit sweeter. And, like a cabbage, it will store for a very long time after harvesting if you keep it in a relatively cool and humid environment. Our two 20-pounders lasted almost four months before we finally finished them off.
When I got these kohlrabi, I searched the internet and got a lot of great ideas on how to get the most from this vegetable. Here are some of my favorites:
Slice the kohlrabi 1/4” thick and add it to stir fry. It's crunchy texture is a nice contrast to all the other vegetables in your stir fry.
Chop it into 1/2” cubes and add to any soup or stew.
If you like scalloped potatoes, you might also like scalloped kohlrabi. My favorite recipe is Scalloped Bacon and Chipotle Kohlrabi (see link below.) The saltiness of the bacon and spicy peppers offset the sweetness of the kohlrabi.
Roasted fall vegetables is a versatile recipe. Just toss your favorite fall veggies like carrots, potatoes, winter squash, onions and leeks with a bit of olive oil, herbs and salt and roast in a 400° oven for 20 minutes, until toasty golden brown and tender. Kohlrabi is a tasty addition to the mix.
Kohlrabi Slaw is basically coleslaw, but substitute 1/3 to 1/2 of the cabbage with shredded kohlrabi. Add a couple grated dark purple carrots for added flavor and a pretty contrasting color.
Kohlrabi Fritters are a pancakey sort of mixture made with a corn-meal batter and grated kohlrabi.
Creamy Kohlrabi Soup is a pretty peach-colored soup. Everyone asked for a second serving of this soup. Served with a loaf of homemade bread and it is the perfect meal for a cold winter day.
My favorite dish is an adaptation of Parmesan Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Just substitute some or all of the potatoes in the recipe with kohlrabi. With lots of garlicky cheesy flavor, it’s a good substitute for mashed potatoes.
Because it has a sweet flavor and crispy texture, it's a nice addition to your favorite vegetable juice. For juice recipes that call for two or three apples, use one or two apples and substitute a big chunk of kohlrabi for the rest of the apples.
Want more recipes using kohlrabi? You’re in luck! I have a whole recipe book filled with almost two dozen recipes just for kohlrabi. You’ll find recipes for including salads, soups and main dishes as well as information on how to grow and store kohlrabi.
For flavor and nutrition, you can't go wrong with kohlrabi. After you see how tasty and versatile this little-known vegetable is, I hope that you will make it a regular part of your garden in years to come.