Still no ideas? Okay, I'll tell. This week's Blog is about Kohlrabi, the literal translation being, "cabbage-turnip." I must confess, while I have heard of this less common vegetable, of German descent, I had never thought of including it in any of my menus. Until this week that is. Nor have I ever come across any recipes instructing me to use it, or recommend it as a substitute for another ingredient.
|My Produce basket - Filled with onions, sweet potatoes, kale and kohlrabi|
|Here's a close-up of the White Vienna variety - Kohlrabi|
I began my recent search for this knotty, light green relative of the turnip at my favourtie Farmers Market. Since this is a specialty item, I figured I'd have better luck there. But no, while all of the vendors I spoke to knew about Kohlrabi, only one had it in stock that day. Alas, he only had delicate slivers of the Purple Vienna Kohlrabi as part of his micro greens mixture. I was looking for the whole enchilada, or in this case the whole "tejano."
Fairly sure Whole Foods would stock Kohlrabi, but not wanting to pay their prices unless forced to, I decided to check out two other large grocery chains on the way. When I arrived at the first store, I didn't see any thing resembling the descriptions I'd read, but wasn't completely sure what I was looking for. So I did as I often instruct my students to do, I asked the produce guy.
"Oh we just stopped carrying that. We used to have year round."
Hmmm, they just stopped carrying Kohlrabi? That means this Potassium, vitamin C filled veggie has been right under my nose for who knows how long. But I felt encouraged. I asked why they no longer stock it.
"Not enough people bought it I guess," he answered. "I can't even special order it for you. They took it off my list. Too bad too. I like it. I just slice it thin, drizzle some olive oil over it, sprinkle a little salt and pepper and it's ready."
I thanked him for the tip and left the store hopeful about my next stop. I hurriedly passed the nectarines, apples and bananas. Anxiously my eyes moved across the potatoes, onions, radishes and there! There it was. Nestled between the beets and turnips. With over-sized, dark greed leaves looking much like those of the wild mustard plant attached to light green-whiteish bulbs with . . . things sticking out. There was the Kohlrabi, patiently waiting to be discovered. They were tied in groups of three and hardly cost more than $3.00 per bunch. It felt as though this strange vegetable exuded a "well it's about time" energy as I approached to make my selection.
Feeling giddy, I stood in line to pay. But the checkout clerk obviously was not familiar with my purchase, as I watched him struggle to find the bar code to ring it up.
"It's Kohlrabi," I stated in a most helpful manner.
"Oh, what's that? I've never rung this up before."
For a brief second I considered going back to the produce section to buy out all they had, before this store, like the first, decided to discontinue selling it due to lack of buyer interest. Instead, I took a few moments to share my new found knowledge. The taste, I was told, can best be described as a sweet radish, sometimes the bulbous stem, is as sweet and juicy as an apple. Kohlrabi can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of ways. Even the leaves have plenty of vitamin K, and can be eaten steamed and served over rice or in soups. The clerk promised me he would give it a try. With my change in one hand and my bag in the other, I exited the store happy in the knowledge I had perhaps inspired a new fan of Kohlrabi.
As soon as I entered the house I went to the kitchen and ran the three bulbs under water, leaves and all. I then cut off the leaves and began peeling off the outer layer as instructed in my research. The outer skin is so tough I had to put away my potato peeler and use a paring knife instead. Once cleaned it up, I decided a quick taste was in order. I took a bite . . . for some reason jicama came to mind. But this wasn't as sweet as jicama, it still had more of a peppery, radish-like undertone. I remembered the method of preparation the produce guy told me about. I tried it . . . hmmm, not sure. I took a few more bites. I kind of liked it. I finished slicing the rest of the first bulb, drizzled it with the olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, then stored the slices in the fridge to take to work the following day. So glad I did! I shared with 3 friends. One a vegetarian, the others not. I grabbed a couple slices to sample again, and found I liked the flavor better the following day. The vegetable, when eaten raw seems improved when cold. My vegetarian friend loved it! The other gal, she enjoyed the crisp, clean taste, even with olive oil and seasonings. The last friend, not so much. She felt it was rather bland. Upon my second taste, I decided Kohlrabi would be great in a sliced julienne in a salad, or large shavings of Kohlrabi with slices of apples and some toasted nuts. would add a nice crunch and mild peppery taste to a sandwich. Of course adding it to your favourite coleslaw recipe would be fun. Easier yet, thickly sliced and incorporated on a platter of crudites!
|Sliced Kohlrabi with olive oil, salt & pepper - They look like apple slices don't they?|
Recipe for Kohlrabi Fritters
Ingredients; 2 kohlrabi - leaves removed and bulbs peeled
2 large carrots - washed and peeled & shredded 1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1/8 teaspoon hot paprika
1 half onion - minced 1/4 cup matzo meal olive oil for frying
chopped fresh parsley or chives for garnish
Toppings; choice of, creme fraiche or sour cream, applesauce or guacamole
1) Using your box grater or food processor - grate kohlrabi
2) Place grated kohlrabi and shredded carrots in center of two paper towels and squeeze to remove as much of the natural liquid/water as possible
3) In medium mixing bowl, combine shredded carrots, grated kohlrabi, minced onion, the egg, salt, pepper, paprika and matzo. Stir together until well mixed.
4) In large heavy skillet, heat enough olive oil to sufficiently coat bottom of pan, but not so much that you end up deep frying the fritters.
5) When oil is hot and shimmering, using a large scoop, spoon two to three scoopfuls of fritter mixture into pan. Cook on both sides until golden brown. Place on paper towel to absorb excess oil.
Serve immediately with your choice of toppings and garnish. Makes about 4-6 Fritters
My son, who is my usual taste-tester, reported enjoying the taste and texture. I personally liked the ones topped with creme fraiche and guacamole better than the creme and applesauce. This is an easy to make vegetarian side-dish, so see what you think.
|Kohlrabi Fritter with creme fraiche & applesauce|
|Kohlrabi Fritter with creme fraiche & guacamole|