Kohlrabi – The New Kale – Well Maybe

Cooking, Recipes By Jan 25, 2014

Time magazine’s 2014 trend-focused issue, touted that kohlrabi is gaining popularity among the nation’s chefs.

(photo above shot at my local Albertson’s)

Kohlrabi, they wrote, is “more like a dinosaur than a vegetable … hiding inside jagged armored skin, is likely to be this year’s trendiest new food.


It’s pickled in India, Nepal and Tibet.  In countries closer to the equator it is grated into flat breads and fritters.


Kohlrabi info – From my book, “Melissa’s Great Book of Produce” (photo by Nick Koon)

Stems spout skyward from kohlrabi’s squat bulb-like tuber. They look oddly misplaced, erupting from sides as well as cap, the weight of their leaves making those stems arch at graceful angles.

There are two varieties, purple and green. Purple has bright purple skin, stems, and leaf veining. Green has apple green skin, stems, and leaf veining. Inside the flesh is identical in both, a creamy white tinged with apple green. Both immature “baby” kohlrabi and more mature regular kohlrabi are sold. The babies have bulbs that are about the size of a golf ball (but flattened at top and bottom); they have a more delicate, sweet flavor profile. The bulb of mature kolhrabi is about the size of a tennis ball.

The taste is a delicious surprise. It’s a very pleasing blend of mild broccoli and cucumber flavors with a gentle sweetness and a very subtle hint of peppery radish. Purple-skinned kohlrabi tends to be slightly spicier. They are as crisp as a green baking apple and are delicious either raw or cooked. The leaves look and taste something like collard greens, and can be washed, trimmed and cooked in a similar manner.

Sometimes, especially with large kohlrabi, stems are removed before it’s marketed. Which is too bad. Chef Kuniko Yagi of Hinoki & the Bird in Los Angeles says the stems can be turned into a delicacy.

Vegetable soup: Add diced kohlrabi along with other firm vegetables  (such as carrots) to vegetable soup.

Roast: Cut 2 pounds peeled kohlrabi bulbs into 1-inch dice. Toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Season with coarse salt or seasoned salt. Bake in 450-degree oven for 35 minutes, tossing kohlrabi 2 or 3 times during roasting.


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