If you subscribe to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) each summer, you know the secret thrill that comes from opening your box each week and seeing your farm fresh treasures. Unfortunately, there is often the “what tha’…” moment when you get a vegetable that looks like nothing you’ve ever seen before, let alone know how to cook. This week’s WTH vegetable was the kohlrabi. I’ve cooked kohlrabi before, mostly in a stir fries, but it’s not ever on my shopping list. I got a text from one of my friends who got the same thing in her box asking “how do I cook this?”. This became another CSA box challenge. I decided to do some research on how to use kohlrabi.
How to use Kohlrabi… lots of different ways
Kohlrabi is a vegetable in the brassica family, making it a close relation to broccoli, collard greens, cabbage and brussel sprouts. The edible part of the vegetable is the bulb, which is actually a swollen part of the stem. This bulb has a mild, sweet flavor, like broccoli stems. You can eat it raw or steamed or roasted or boiled. It pairs well with butter and mustard. The leaves are also edible and can be boiled, sautéed or eaten raw.
Like cabbage, you can grate or julienne raw kohlrabi and use it in a slaw or salad. As in all these recipes, just trim away the ends and the tough, outer peel with a sharp paring knife before you grate it for your salad. Once you grate it, you can toss it with a dressing and other crisp vegetables and fruits, such as carrots, radishes, apples, fennel bulbs, scallions, etc.
Another way to use kohlrabi is roasted. My friend eventually made a gratin out of her kohlrabi. I found a great recipe for Potato & Kohlrabi Gratin here.
Deborah Madison’s fantastic cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, has a great recipe for steamed kohlrabi.
Kohlrabi with Horseradish
(from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)
4 or 5 kohlrabi, about 1 lb., peeled
2 to 4 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
Prepared horseradish in vinegar
2 teaspoons chopped dill
salt & pepper
Slice the kohlrabi into julienne strips or wedges. Steam until tender, 5 to 8 minutes, then remove to a bowl and toss with the creme fraiche, horseradish, and dill. Salt and pepper to taste.
What did I do with my Kohlrabi? I made soup.
My CSA box also brought me carrots, onions and potatoes this week, so I decided to make something using all of those ingredients. My way to use kohlabi is in a Creamy Kohlrabi & Carrot Soup.
Creamy Kohlrabi & Carrot Soup
2 kohlrabi, peeled
1 lb. white potatoes (about 5 small), peeled and diced
3 to 4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, leaves stripped from their stems and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 – 32 oz. box of chicken broth
2 cups of water
1 teaspoon of Hungarian paprika (I used smoked paprika)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
salt & pepper
You will need to trim and peel your kohlrabi by slicing away the tough outer skin. It’s good to cut off the ends, as they tend to be tough and woody. Keep the leaves for another meal. They are great in salads.
You want to cut your kohlrabi into chunks or thick wedges. Dice your carrots, onions and potatoes, as well.
In your soup pot, melt the butter and then add the onion. Cook the onion until transparent. Add the potatoes, carrots, kohlrabi, salt, pepper, fresh herbs, chicken broth and water. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to simmer for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables have cooked and softened.
Using an immersion blender, puree all the vegetables in the soup pot. Then, add the paprika, cream and sour cream to the soup and stir until mixed. Taste and adjust your salt & pepper. Serve with some good bread.