July 1, 2011 at 6:00 am
“Take one pretty one and one with a brown split.”
Those were the standing directions last year from our pick-your-own CSA regarding kohlrabi, the eastern Mediterranean cabbage cousin.
Our CSA had a ton of these — they weren’t as popular as other non-”sputnik vegetables,” but grew pretty well, even if some of them did look even funkier than how they are supposed to look.
When it came with what to do with them, I had little to go on. Kohlrabi is not something I encountered until post-college when a farming co-worker brought one to work for us to try.
“It’s good!” she promised. “Kind of radish-y … well, not really.”
Kohlrabi actually can be substituted for radishes, according to Lois Burpee’s Gardener’s Companion and Cookbook, which offers several suggestions, including grating it for cole slaw.
The greens are totally edible. They reportedly stand in well for basil in pesto (and who isn’t all for pesto sooner in the season?)
Our friendly CSA farmer promised good results in stir-fry (you can even turn it into “kohlrabi bamboo shoots”) but I was excited to try it pure, unaffected by the flavors of neighboring broccoli or shitake mushrooms.
Kohlrabi goes well in salads or can even be marinated, but for this experiment with kohlrabi I went for something everyone loves: chips.
By slicing kohlrabi thinly and then putting the slices in lightly salted water for a few hours in the refrigerator, you get a crispy snack. Good with hummus. Not so much with cashew butter.
Kohlrabi usually show up in the spring, and in many climates pop up again in the fall. If you are a CSA member, you might see quite a few. They are a less common find at farmer’s markets, where unfortunately, “the sputnik vegetable” just hasn’t really taken off yet. (Sputnik … taken off … get it?!)
But you can get even more kohlrabi recipes from Prairieland Community Supported Agriculture.
So give these weird dudes a chance. I mean, someone had to be the first person to really get behind pineapples, right?