Have you heard of kohlrabi? If you’re a member of a local CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) farm and receive regular deliveries of seasonal produce, then you are likely familiar with this often-unknown vegetable. Or you may have seen it at a farmers’ market and wondered what it was and how to use it. No, that’s not an alien vegetable, and yes, it is delicious, healthy and versatile!
Kohlrabi look similar to a turnip, generally round in shape with leaves growing out of one end; both the ball and leaves are edible. Kohlrabi can range in color from white to green to purple and are generally the size of a baseball. Treat the leaves just as you would another hearty, leafy green like collards or kale. The root part is mild, juicy and sweet and may remind you of a variation of jicama. It has a texture similar to a radish, without being spicy, and it has a cool, crunchy flesh and velvety leaves.
Kohlrabi is part of the Brassicaceae family, which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collard greens and kale. It is packed with nutrients, including dietary fiber, vitamin C, several B vitamins, copper and potassium.
How to select and store kohlrabi
Kohlrabi is generally available June through September, throughout prime farmers’ market seasons. Follow these tips to select and store your kohlrabi:
- Look for an even, round shape and greens that look fresh and not wilted.
- Avoid any kohlrabi with gashes and bruises in the skin.
- Once you get home, cut the greens off and store them separately from the kohlrabi root in a crisper drawer.
- Peel the kohlrabi root before using.
Ways to use kohlrabi
Kohlrabi has versatile applications. Here are some preparation ideas to get you started:
- Slice and add it to raw vegetable salads or as part of a crudités platter.
- Grate it and use in a slaw.
- Dice the root to roast with some olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Boil and mash it with some potatoes or on its own.
- Use in place of potatoes in a baked gratin dish.
- Sauté the leaves with oil, salt, pepper and garlic.
Here’s a simple kohlrabi recipe to get you started.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 lime, zested
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 kohlrabi, peeled and grated
- 2 Granny Smith apples, diced
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 3 scallions, white/light green parts only, thinly sliced
- Combine oil, vinegar, honey, zest, salt and pepper in a large bowl and whisk.
- Add kohlrabi, apple, celery and scallion whites to bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Garnish with scallion greens.
I always turn to honey and maple syrup as my sweeteners of choice. These ingredients provide nutrients, such as magnesium, zinc and antioxidants. They also impart flavor components, adding depth and complexity to a dish.
If you’d like to take it up a notch, feel free to use a spiralizer. Both the apples and kohlrabi can be spiralized for a fun twist.
By Chef & Registered Dietitian Abbie Gellman, Institute of Culinary Education