The name is German, meaning cabbage
(kohl) turnip (rabi) and its taste is very much like a cross between
the two. It is slightly sweeter than turnip and more delicate than
cabbage. Long overlooked here, it is just beginning to appear regularly
Don't be put off by the otherworldly looks of this interesting
vegetable. Kohlrabi is actually the stem of the plant, swollen and
round, which grow just above ground. The leaves, which look much like
turnip greens, grow out of the bulb at odd angles. Once the bulbs are
trimmed of leaves and arranged in the market display, they resemble
miniature pale green (or occasionally purple) sputniks with little
spikes sticking out all over. Kohlrabi can be eaten cooked or raw. Raw,
it has a flavor somewhat like sweet radishes. Like jicama and fennel,
slices or sticks of kohlrabi can be part of a crudites platter, along
with any kind of savory dip or sauce. Kohlrabi is a perfect addition to
Bagna Cauda or Pinzimonio. Or it can be cubed or cut into matchstick
strips to add crunch to salads and dieter's snack trays.
The bulb can be peeled and cubed, sliced or left whole. It can be
boiled, steamed, or roasted. It can be added to soups, stews, and
casseroles; served by itself with just a little butter or olive oil and
salt and pepper; or mashed and added to potatoes or another root
vegetable, such as its cousin rutabaga. It can be cut into matchstick
strips and steamed along with sticks of carrots and celery for a
delicious low-calories side dish. If you live near a grower or grow it
in your own garden, the leaves delicious cooked like beet greens. Like
garden-fresh beets and turnips, it is two distinct vegetables in one.
Unfortunately, you seldom see kohlrabi sold in brunches today with the
leaves still on.
And if its versatility were not enough, kohlrabi has many of the same
health benefits as its relatives in the cabbage family. It is high in
vitamin C, calcium, and potassium and provides some vitamin A. Kohlrabi
is a good source of fiber and is low in fat and calories.