Have you ever seen kohlrabi at the Farmer's Market? Maybe you did, and had no idea what to do with it. Today is your lucky day! And if you can find a fresh kohlrabi, you and I will have a wonderful (and nutritious) adventure together!
Kohlrabi is a vegetable in the cabbage family (like broccoli) which makes it super healthy. The bulb (which is actually a swollen stem) is sweet and mild (smaller, younger bulbs have the best flavor) and they come in various colors like green, white and purple. They are packed with nutrition, too; one cup of raw kohlrabi contains 36 calories, 2.3 g protein, 8 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 140% RDA of vitamin C, 14% RDA of potassium, 10% RDA of B6, and is a good source of folic acid and vitamin A.
What some people don't realize is that you can (and should) eat both the bulbs AND the leaves of kohlrabi. In fact, that's what led me to buy this beautiful purple kohlrabi from a local stand at the Farmer's Market this weekend; the grower was telling everyone that they can cook the leaves and they are nutritious like spinach! I had never heard of that before, so I brought one home to experiment. When I Googled it, I found out that indeed, you can eat the small, young, tender leaves raw in a salad or you can cook the large leaves as you would any greens. I haven't found a source for nutrition facts for the greens, but I would take an educated guess that the nutritional profile is similar to other greens such as kale: low in calories, super high in nutrients. Any kind of greens is generally an excellent, healthy food.
So I brought home a nice, big kohlrabi bulb with a big bunch of pretty greens attached, both packed with nutrition. All this for $1! What a steal!
Now, how to prepare this vegetable? You can start by trimming off the leaves, close to the bulb. Like so:
I use a kitchen scissors for prepping greens because it makes life SO MUCH EASIER! If you don't have a pair of Kitchen Shears, you must get one. You can use any scissors but make sure they are dedicated FOOD PREP scissors and be sure the family knows it, so the kids are not using the food scissors for art projects or to trim the fur off the dog's back end. Anyway, cut off the leaves and wash them by swishing them in a sink of cold water and then lifting them out and draining on a towel. Cut the stems and ribs from the leaves and cut the leaves into bite sized pieces. Now, I followed some random guy's advice on the Internet, where this fellow said that kohlrabi greens are like Swiss chard so you can just steam them for 3 or 4 minutes and eat them. So I did that.
WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Epic fail. Listen. I know my greens, and these suckers are NOT like chard whatsoever. They are like KALE. And if you know kale... mature leaves, not baby ones... you know that if you steam it for 3 minutes you are not going to have something edible!!
When I tasted a leaf, I knew it needed a longer cook time. I let them cook for 20 minutes and then dinner was ready so I ate them. And they were still a *little* on the not-so-tender side. And they had that edge of bitterness and strong flavor you get when you do not cook kale correctly. But I ate them anyway, as I needed my veggies and they were not terrible.
Now maybe, just *maybe* if your kohlrabi greens are young and small and thin, the shorter cook time will suffice. But look at the size of my leaves. They needed to be treated like collards or kale to be tender. Next time I have kohlrabi greens, I am going to cook them according to my absolutely fantastic recipe for kale, because that recipe *always* turns out tender, delicious greens and I am certain the kohlrabi leaves will do well when cooked in that manner.
Now, for the kohlrabi bulb itself. You can eat kohlrabi raw, steamed, baked, sauteed, whatever... just be sure to peel it first. It's very versatile. But we all know what cooking method makes the yummiest possible veggies: roasting! I prepared it using a recipe I found here and modified a bit.
Oven Roasted Kohlrabi
1 kohlrabi bulb, peeled and sliced thin (1/4" or so)
1 tsp olive oil
garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper to taste
Toss the kohlrabi slices with the oil and seasonings to coat. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 450 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring and flipping occasionally. When they are browned, take the sheet out and sprinkle them with 1 teaspoon of Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven for about 5 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown. Remove and serve immediately.
These were YUM. I really liked them. They got a little crisp on the edges and were tender in the middle, and had a nice sweet flavor. Excellent! I would do two things differently: 1) I will try cooking them at a slightly lower temperature (400-425) for a slightly longer time (25-30 minutes) to see if I can get them more crisp without burning, and 2) I will also try cutting them into "fry" shapes and roasting them, because these would make an *excellent* lower carb, higher nutrient substitute for french fries.
The next time I buy kohlrabi (and there WILL be a next time), I am going to try this recipe for kohlrabi puree, which includes both the bulbs and the leaves and is purported to be the "best" kohlrabi recipe by a blogger or two out there. We'll see!
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