Sunday, 28 August 2016

Ingredient: Kohlrabi

A kohl what?

There was the wild cabbage plant then and here is the kohlrabi now. Oh were would we be without artificial selection?! Kohlrabi belongs to the cabbage family, it is cousin of cabbages, cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and kale.

I love this vegetable. Sadly, it is not really known around here in the UK or in Ireland but it is very popular in Hungary. I love the texture of a young kohlrabi, crisp and juicy, similar to a cabbage heart but with a flavor that is milder and much sweeter. The stem has two fibrous layers that need to be peeled away.
The flesh is white, somewhat translucent - fresh, crisp and juicy. My mother was growing purple kohlrabi, so I was growing up seeing only the purple variety but here in the UK the white version seems to be commonly available.

How to choose / spot a fresh kohlrabi? I find that the purple type is packed with more flavour while the white variety has more juice. To choose the freshest watch for the leaves, they should not be shriveled. If the kohlrabi has no leaves (and most of the time it won't) look for the horizontal lines on the skin where the leaf endings are/were attached to the stem, it they are dry then the kohlrabi isn't fresh. Also, pick the young ones as older, over-matured ones often have tough, fibrous bits.

How to use a kohlrabi? Use it raw - a perfect snack (just peel and slice), or use raw in salads or slaws (shredded, julienned or grated). You can steam the flesh, mash into puree, use it in soups (chunky or creamy), roast it like potato wedges.

Some recipe ideas:
Kohlrabi mash with chicken liver and spinach sauce
Kohlrabi in bone broth with lamb and cauliflower
Kohlrabi in creamy courgette noodle soup
Kohlrabi in garden veg slaw
Kohlrabi in samphire-artichoke salad
Kohlrabi-kale cooked salad

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