Sunday, June 20, 2010

Farmer's Market: Kohlrabi!

fresh kohlrabi
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.

kohlrabi greens

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.

kohlrabi recipe

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!

Now go eat your veggies!

26 comments:

Momma Hunt said...

That veggie looks awesome. Look for you for being brave

Lynda with a Y said...

Well, I love collard greens and kale, so I think I will love these as well. Thanks for the recipes, I'm looking forward to trying them (our local farmer's market is open tomorrow!!)

Jaime said...

Looks very good. I have never had Kohlrabi but I did plant some in my garden this year . Hopefully they turn out .

spunkysuzi said...

Thank you Lyn i've always wondered what to do with one of those :)

Fat Grump said...

You come up with some wonderful recipes Lyn. I like the look and sound of those kholrabi 'fries'.

I am late in saying this (I am just catching up) but wanted to say "Fantastic!" because you have broken the 200lbs barrier! Well done. I am so pleased for you, but you really do deserve this success. I hope you can hear me appluding you from here Lyn. Blimey - I am welling up too, but that is such a great achievement and you have inspired so many, including me, along the way!

Karin said...

You are such an inspiration to so many folks. Thank you for telling your story and just having it all be right out there. I am finally becoming friends with my body that i've hated for so long and your blog along with a few others have been more helpful than any doctor or professional ever. Because it's REAL. Great job. And yes, kohlrabi is AWESOME! My new favorite raw vegetable is jicama. Just can't get enough of it!

Jennifer said...

Yumm...the bulb part looked great!!! I dont think I ever heard of this veggie. Definately a new one for me to try! Thanks for the pics because without them I would never venture there!

Jennifer
http://wecanlosethepounds.blogspot.com/

Jane said...

I need a pocket sized Lyn to take to the farmers market with me on saturdays. I literally walk around with no clue. I tried some rainbow chard last week because I figured it would be pretty even if I had to choke it down. I will definitely be on the lookout for kohlrabi next saturday morning :)

Tammy said...

I love Kohlrabi!!! I uses it kinda like potatoes, ususally mashed. And even, though not exactly healthy, use it in place of diced potatoes in cheesy potato casserole. Sooooo goooood. And the best part, the husband, who doesn't do veggies, has no clue!! I just buy/prep it before he's home.

Anna said...

kohlrabi is actually excellent raw, also!

Elsie said...

Thank you so much for this post! I have often wonder what kohlrabi looked like/was/how to eat it. I'm gonna give it a go :)

Twix said...

We love to eat the leaves raw in salads. Yumm!!

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

Sorry, but I won't eat anything that sounds like a Star Trek villain. "Captain... the Kohlrabi have invaded the Neutral Zone again!"

Hanlie said...

I have never seen these over here... It looks great though!

Lanie Painie said...

Sounds delish. I have done something very similar with stir-frying in olive oil and greek seasonings instead of roasting, because I don't want the a/c to fight with the oven heat. The kohlrabi I have, though, isn't purple. It's green. Does that mean it isn't ripe?

Lyn said...

Lanie~

nope, it's just a different variety but should taste the same!

Bobbie said...

I had to tell you that I read this post about Kohlrabi the day you wrote it and then I went to Farmer's Market yesterday and low and behold there was an Asian lady selling some. We don't usually have folks in Arkansas growing this stuff. Well I bought some (white bulbs)and I roasted some like you showed and that was pretty good, but I found a recipe where you cook equal amounts of carrots and Kohlrabi in water til softened and then I added sauteed onions and a little butter. Everyone loved it! Even my grown daughter who usually doesn't do too much in the veggie category. I have been working on her to incorporate more veggies in her diet and we are getting there (she is grown with a teenager who loves veggies). If it hadn't been for your post I might have overlooked this neat little veggie. Thanks. I am really enjoying your posts. It's almost like you see my heart and hear my thoughts.

Sueso said...

Just found your blog! WOW, great recipes. We lived by an Asian family in a court type apt. They grew kohlrabi in every space they had! I often wondered what they did with it. They ate a LOT of it. Now I know how to prepare it and it looks delicious. (not sure about the greens tho.) :)

Anonymous said...

I love the bulb raw and am going to try the leaves boiled then drizzled with garlic infused olive oil and toasted sesame seeds. Very easy to grow and I always have many seedlings to share when I thin them out. We just ate our first of the season. Yum! :)

Anonymous said...

It's almost mid-November and I just pulled out the rest of my kohlrabi...it was a hard frost last night...only a few bulbs were big enough to save but I washed and sorted the greens...big leaves for my morning smoothies and the smaller, tender ones to add to salad...they have a sharp taste so you just need to add a few to liven up the salad...what a wonderful vegetable!

Anonymous said...

I took the kohlrabi greens (first time growing in my garden never had eaten before)(NOTE must soak several time to clean or you might eat grit!!!) and put them in a steamer for 5 minutes. I then took about 2 tbs olive oil, 2 tbs butter, heated butter - till stoped bubbling, added good tablespoon chopped garlic or more , fryed garlic for about 2 min - do not want to brown to much - then took steamed greens chopped them up some and added to fry pan and cooked for about 5 minutes turning often then adding salt and pepper. No bitterness at all - served for dinner to group of people that do not like greens and they were all plesently surprise that they do like Kohlragi Greens. You can also saute the pealed sliced bulb in olive oil and garlic separate till brown and mix all together to serve as well. Enjoy

Anonymous said...

I think the best recipe for kohlrabi comes from my Mom. She made a wonderful kohlrabi stew. It was AWESOME!!! I am going to attempt to grow kohlrabi because of her recipe. The recipe is very simple and uses both the bulb and the leaves.
First trim the leaves from the bulb. Peel the outer fibrous outer layer of the bulb. Cut the bulbs into pieces. I usually cut mine into cubes. Take the leaves and strip the leafy part from the stem. Chop the greens into slices. Place the cubes and chopped leaves into a pot with water. Add seasoning as you like. I usually add boulon cubes, salt pepper and fresh or powdered garlic. Don't add too much you can always add more seasoning once cooked and adjust to your personal taste. As you start cooking add some pork. You can use pork chops or whatever type of pork is on sale or available. Don't use a whole pork loin. This will take too long to cook. As always trim of excess fat. Cook long enough to fully cook the pork. At this point your cubes of the kohrabi bulb should be tender. About 10-15 min before you stop cooking add cubed potatoes. Check that the potatoes and kohlrabi cubes are tender by placing a knife into them. Finally do your fine tuning of the seasoning. If you like spicy you can had hot sauce or hot pepper flakes. I like to add apple cider vinegar or balsalmic vinegar after it has finished cooking. You can try this after you finish your seasoning. Try it on a bowl full before you add it to the pot to see if you like it.

Viennagirl said...

Here in Vienna, they leave the greens, so tonight, right before closing, I swooped in and gathered them up, along with one knob for courtesy, paid 29 centimes and home I went to follow your recipe! They were fantastic. We don't add fats to our diet (artery problems)but even without, a little stock powder and red onions and they were glorious! Thank you Lynn, you gave me the courage to try!

lakegirl1935 said...

I have eaten and grown kohlrabi for over 40 years, it tastes exactly like the cabbage heart. Love it, but never thought about cooking the leaves, for the last 3-4 years have been eating greens and juicing them. Today at the store I bought 3 small kohlrabi and thought about the leaves, so I went on line and got a recipe, remove leaves from stem, cook in boiling salted water 3 min, drop in ice bath, drain and dry slice thinly, put in skillet with olive oil and garlic slices, cook. I plan to pour it over pasta tomorrow. maybe add some pine nuts or some kind of nut.

Teresa A said...

I just had kohlrabi greens for the first time. I cubed the bulb and chopped up the mature leaves and added them to my Caribbean curried stew...was very yummy!!
I read on German webpage that the greens have the same nutrients as the bulb but 3X the potency.

Grateful Child said...

I just cut it in ¼" slices and steam mine until it's tender. I grow Kossack. It grows to huge sizes and never becomes woody. This year I'm trying another large size All America Selections winner, Konan.