Hey! What Do You Do With Kohlrabi?

April 10, 2013 | By | COMMENTS

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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):

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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.

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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.

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Then I cut the kohlrabi into cubes. Easy enough: it’s like cutting up an apple.

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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.

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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.

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Categories: Recipes, Vegetarian

  • http://twitter.com/srealsimplefood sophiareal

    In Germany (where I was born), Kohlrabi is very very common – I grew up munching raw slices as part of my lunchbox! The most common (German) preparation methods I know are to parboil the Kohlrabi until tender and then stir the drained Kohlrabi into some bechamel sauce – perfect accompaniment to new potaties and pan-fried fish like Rainbow Trout. Another common dish is a Kohlrabi Gratin (either doing a mix of potatoe and Kohlrabi slices, covered in Bechamel sauce and breadcrumbs, or simply layering slices of Kohlrabi in a deep baking dish and covering it either with grated cheese or breadcrumbs).

    And when you peel the Kohlrabi, a sharp knife is definitely recommended, to make sure you cut off all the woody outer layers!

  • Laura

    Yum! 2 things together that I love – your blog & Ottolenghi’s take on food! I live down the road from one of his cafes & go as often as I can – worth a diversion to London next time you’re in Europe.

  • http://twitter.com/Whaletimes Karen Whaley

    Kohlrabi is kind of like the inside of a broccoli stem.

  • Kim

    Another great way to eat kohlrabi is as a fritter! Just grate the kohlrabi with a box grater, squeeze out the liquids in a kitchen towel and mix it with an egg, some salt and pepper and a little flour or panko bread crumbs and off to the frying pan! Also tastes great with yoghurt, dill, lemon and salmon! All the best from Germany :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/genoendicott Geno Endicott

    Kohlrabi chips are amazing.

  • maria

    i´m normally not a commenter, but i have to say that i am loving these little posts! sometimes food small talk is even better than a recipe post.

  • Sara
  • jg

    My farmers market sells it with the stems/leaves still attached. The greens are really hardy, but if you cook them for a while (like kale, collards, etc; not like spinach or chard), they’re really tasty

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamie.tammariello Jamie Tammariello

    Yes I agree about the bechamel. That is my favorite. And sprinkle with fresh chives. DELISH.

  • Parenthetical

    Fuschia Dunlop has some great recipes for preparing kohlrabi salads in Every Grain of Rice, and through experimentation I’ve found that they can replace cucumbers in just about any cold Chinese cucumber salad.

    My grandmother, who has been growing them all her life (she’s 90) in rural Ohio, serves them sliced, raw, with Ranch dressing. Also tasty!

  • Matthew Bin

    My father-in-law is Chinese and does an incredible kohlrabi and rice. Mince pork and onion, and cut the kohlrabi into a small dice (1/4″-1/8″ cubes). Here’s what he does.

    Put a couple of cups of rice on in the rice cooker. Stir-fry the onion in a wok until softened, then add the pork and brown well. Add the kohlrabi and a healthy shot of good soy sauce and oyster sauce. Stir-fry over medium-high heat until the kohlrabi is softened (but still has some firmness in its texture). If it gets too dried out, I add a bit of water, just so things stay loose.

    Once the kohlrabi is cooked to your liking, and the rice cooker has clicked over to “warm”, add the contents of the wok to the rice cooker and mix it in with the rice. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to absorb the flavours and then serve.

    It’s a pretty versatile meal — use ground beef if you like, add other vegetables if you like. The peppery bite and firm texture of the kohlrabi contrasts perfectly with pork and rice, though.

  • kath the cook

    I like it as a crunchy thing in salad cut in matchsticks – like radishes

  • Jiny

    Treat it as Koreans would treat Daikon Radishes – marinate with Kimchi seasonings of your choice, sprinkle with roasted sesame oil and eat with a bowl of white rice, or actually let it ferment with aforementioned seasonings and treat it as radish kimchi :)

  • Dana @ Foodie Goes Healthy

    I recently started experimenting with kohlrabi too. I find it to be a relatively blank canvas to enhance with other flavors. I got ideas for preparing it by talking to the vendor at the farmers’ market. My farmer suggested slicing and roasting it in the oven. I seasoned with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar before roasting like I’ve been cooking brussel sprouts. Also, I think kohlrabi would be good in a traditional Chinese mixed vegetable stir fry. I was surprised by its pleasant subtle taste and crunch while raw. Can’t wait to learn more recipes for kohlrabi.

  • Yasmin F.

    I used to get tons of kohlrabi in my CSA box. I’d pickle them! They had great flavor and crunch.

  • ess

    I’ve always had it in matzoh ball soup! My bubby won’t make broth without it. The texture ends up not as soft as the carrots in the soup, but so delicious that the family fights over who gets the bits of kohlrabi.

  • Christine

    Kohlrabi was my dad’s favorite veggie. Mom made it the way Sophiareal described. She treated it like a potato, peeled, cut into 1/2″ cubes and parboiled it. Meanwhile prepared a bechamel sauce which she napped over the drained and plated kohlrabi. Salt, pepper and delicious!

  • http://www.facebook.com/elkesisco Elke Sisco

    I used to eat sliced kohlrabi with a sprinkle of sugar on it back when I was a kid. Now that I pretend to be a grown-up, I leave the sugar off and just eat the slices a a snack.

  • http://twitter.com/sasafred Sarah Fredrick

    I’ve been hooked on roasted kohlrabi ever since I first tried it. I add it to my standard mix of whatever roastable veggies I have on hand (usually carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes). The texture can hold up to a good roast and a little bit of carmelization adds a really nice depth.

  • Sara B. Little

    kohrabi (purple or green) is great roasted or au gratin, but my favorite way to eat it is just peeled, sliced and drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper. yum! The greens are good sauteed, but blanch them first to get rid of the bitterness.

  • Aaron Kagan

    Maybe pair with lobster meat. What kind of lobster meat? The claw.

  • Peggy Schatz

    Kohlrabis are great. As raw vegetable snack or cooked. I normally cook it with celleriac leaves for additional tastes and thicken the boiling juice. Kohlrabis may be filled or sliced and fried with a panade. My top favourite Kohlrabi recipe was a fried version with poached egg as seen here (recipe in German with on-site translation): http://www.multikulinarisch.es/606-kohlrabi-panadi.html

  • er

    Anyone ever roasted it?

  • Becky

    My fiance is Greek and we eat this all the time. He just slices it up and marinates in olive oil, lots of lemon and salt. It is so good and so refreshing. Greek men eat this while they sip their Ouzo, it is a great combination.