They look like the aliens in Toy Story, the ones that gaze up and worship The Claw; only those aliens are cute and kohlrabi, which I often see at the farmer’s market, is rather beguiling. What is it? What are you supposed to do with it? What does it taste like? Last week, I bought a few orbs and brought them home in order to finally unpack the mystery of kohlrabi.
Thankfully, I remembered a kohlrabi recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s award-winning Jerusalem that I could put into action. Ottolenghi describes kohlrabi as “a cabbage with a swollen stem that looks like a bumpy green or purple apple and with a texture and flavor not dissimilar to radish or cabbage heart.”
No wonder his cookbook wins so many awards: that description is perfectly apt. Here’s the kohlrabi in a basket on my counter along with the other farmer’s market produce I brought home (sweet potatoes, green garlic, sugar snap peas):
Ottolenghi’s recipe asks you to make a yogurt-based dressing with also has sour cream and mascarpone; I decided to stick to just yogurt because, well, I already had yogurt and didn’t feel like spending money on the other stuff. I chopped up some of that green garlic, stirred it into Greek yogurt which I pepped up with lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Then I set it aside and looked at the kohlrabi.
The first step is to peel it and I figured that wouldn’t happen with a conventional peeler. So I used my knife and did a halfway decent job.
Then I cut the kohlrabi into cubes. Easy enough: it’s like cutting up an apple.
At this point, I bit into a kohlrabi cube and was pleasantly surprised by the crunch and the refreshing, vegetal taste. It has the mouthfeel of an apple piece but the flavor, as Ottolenghi says, of a cabbage heart. I was hooked.
I stirred the kohlrabi up with the dressing, topped it with mint and sumac, and roasted a few sweet potato wedges with brown sugar (Barefoot Contessa-style) for a healthy, farmer’s market dinner.
Kohlrabi seemed intimidating at first but now I’m a big fan. Thanks, Ottolenghi, for demystifying it for me. I’ll never watch Toy Story the same way again.