Have you ever heard of Kohlrabi? I remember the first time I learned about it when one of my aunts came to visit me in Boston and used it to cook with. I had never had it, never seen it, never tried it before then.
It’s one of those vegetables that remains a mystery for most of us. It’s popularity is most prevalent in Asia, Germany and southern parts of India. It’s categorized with veggies like the cabbage, brussels and kale. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Its taste resembles broccoli stems, but not quite, since it’s slightly spicy in a radish kind of way.
I think it tastes exactly like the center of a cabbage. Most people don’t know what that tastes like. When I was a kid, my mom made a lot of cabbage and she would always share the very center square with me. We would sprinkle it with salt and eat it raw. It has a very distinct taste, that I didn’t know tasted like anything else, until the first time I tasted kohlrabi! To this day, I still eat the center of the cabbage.
Kohlrabi looks like a root that you would dig up from underneath the ground, but the kohlrabi bulb actually grows above the ground, as in this photo:
Choose this vegetable for its small size. The smaller, the tastier. Choose sizes similar to, or smaller than, a tennis ball.
Kohlrabi without its leaves, is called topless kohlrabi. It costs about $1.49 per pound. It comes in two colors, the pale green pictured here, or deep purple. Both are comparable in taste. Prepare or eat them the same way.
Try this veggie raw, first. Peel its outer layer and keep peeling a few more thin layers. Some larger ones may have a tougher outer layer. Peel with a vegetable peeler, in the direction of end to end. You’ll be able to tell the difference between the flesh that you eat and the outer layer that is tough, just underneath its skin. You can see it’s stripe and muscly texture if you look closely, that’s what you’ll want to remove. However, if your veggie is small enough, you may only need to remove the tough end and eat it the way it is. The one I show here, is a bit larger and needed a few layers peeled off.
Once you’ve peeled one, you should be left with only the tender pulp. Like this:
I like to slice them into sticks and eat them plain with a little bit of salt. You can also serve them along with your vegetable plate with dips or humus. Chop them up and add them to salads, especially salads with a sweeter flavor, to contrast. They add a similar crunch as a radish without the overpowering taste.
Kohlrabi is in season in spring and early summer. It is very low in calories. A half cup of raw kohlrabi is only 36 calories. It is fat-free, very high in fiber and vitamin C and is a good source of Thiamin, Folate, Magnesium and Phosphorus. It’s estimated glycemic load is only 3.
The best kept secret about Kohlrabi is that it tastes almost like a potato when prepared as one. However, compared, a medium white potato has 140 calories and its glycemic load is 13.
Try these, you’ll be amazed at how good they are and how closely it resembles a potato!
Baked Kohlrabi Fries:
One or two kohlrabis, sliced like french fries
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
1/8 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with Pam, enough to discourage sticking. Add olive oil to the pan and spread it around. Put the pan in the oven to heat up for 2-3 minutes (set your timer! don’t let the oil burn). Toss kohlrabi slices in the seasonings. Then add flour and toss to coat. Add to the hot pan and bake for 8-minutes. Turn the fries over. Bake another 5-8 minutes on the opposite side.
Serve as a side item, as you would french fries. Don’t tell your family and see if they notice.
They taste best, when HOT out of the oven.
You can also use this recipe to make them in cubes, like oven baked home-fries, at breakfast. Add diced onion. Just make sure you don’t cut them too thick, so you don’t extend the cooking time. Also, they should be in one single layer on the pan.