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Kohlrabi 101 – How to Cook, Eat and Enjoy Kohlrabi

WHAT IS KOHLRABI? 
Feared most among CSA subscribers is the innocent kohlrabi. This totally alien looking vegetable is completely under utilized and desperately needs a marketing campaign to bolster its brand recognition. Admittedly, kohlrabi is confusing – it looks like a root but isn’t and appears fibrous and tough but its not. Let’s put all the confusion to rest! Kohlrabi is a member of the brassica family and like broccoli, it is entirely edible from leafy green to bottom. The texture is similar to jicama or radish and has an amazing crunch like none other. The bulbous bottom has a flavour similar to sweet cabbage and the stem and leaves taste rather kale-like.

HOW TO BUY + STORE KOHLRABI
Kohlrabi is found in three variations, green, white and purple, though they taste the same.  When purchasing kohlrabi look for firm bottoms that have fresh looking greens attached and are free of brown spotting. The smaller bulbs tend to have more flavour. Kohlrabi stores very well for weeks in the refrigerator if you separate the leaves and stems from the bottom, which should be used within a few days. I use ziploc produce bags to keep my CSA vegetables fresh.

HOW TO USE KOHLRABI
The bulbous bottom of larger kohlrabi has a tough skin that is edible but not altogether pleasant, peeling this tough skin with a good quality peeler or a paring knife does the trick. With smaller, super fresh kohlrabi, it isn’t always necessary to peel the outside. The inside is easily sliced with a knife, mandoline or spiralizer. The stems and greens can be prepared in the same way as any hearty green and can easily substitute for kale or swiss chard.

5 WAYS TO USE KOHLRABI + BONUS RECIPE!

  1. Slaw! A classic use of kohlrabi – use a mandoline and slice thin sheets of kohlrabi to julienne to substitute for cabbage in any slaw recipe.
  2. Quick Pickle! Slice kohlrabi into matchsticks and put in a mason jar. Heat a brine of 1 cup white wine vinegar, 1/2 cup water,  2 tbsp honey, 1 tsp crushed chili peppers – remove from heat and pour on top of kohlrabi. Cool to room temperature, put lid on and place in fridge where they will keep for 6 weeks.
  3. Saute! Saute the greens and stems with olive oil, garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice and top with fresh herbs for a summery side.
  4. Soup!  Kohlrabi makes a great soup says the NYTimes and the greens could easily be substituted for kale in my absolute favourite soup – Ribollita.
  5. Puree! Sick of cauli-mash? Kohlrabi can be steamed and pureed like potatoes or cauliflower.
  6. Spiralize! – A bonus method! Kohlrabi spiralizes like a dream. Recipe below!

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spiralized vietnamese kohlrabi salad
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Instructions
  1. Combine spiralized kohlrabi, carrots and green onions and herbs in a large salad bowl. 
  2. In a mason jar, add lime juice and zest, rice wine vinegar, garlic, chili flakes, avocado oil, honey, fish sauce and kosher salt. Put lid on and shake vinaigrette.
  3. Pour vinaigrette on top of salad and combine all ingredients with tongs. Let salad sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. 
Recipe Notes

serves 6

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4 comments

  1. Sean Bromilow says:

    I have a special fondness for all of the odd Brassica veggies. I love kohlrabi – especially as a quick pickle. I’m glad you included advice about choosing smaller ones too – I think a lot of people go for the biggest, and that can be big mistake when you end up with a fibrous, bland plant!

    • leslie-anne weeks says:

      Yes, the small ones are key! I am also fond of the brassica veggies and I have a hard time not choosing a brassica every week to write about!

  2. Occasionally Eggs says:

    I grew up eating kohlrabi and it’s an all-time favourite! It’s very common in Germany but I don’t see people eating it as much here. I’m glad you’re talking about it, as it is definitely an overlooked vegetable. I love just cutting it up and eating it raw, but am always looking for new ways to use it!

    • leslie-anne weeks says:

      Definitely underrated in North America! My preference is also raw, spiralized or for crudités – the crunch is unbeatable.

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