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June 12, 2007 at 8:57 pm 10 comments

Kohlrabin in the ground

I’ve been learning a lot about unusual vegetables thanks to my time on the farm.  One such suspect is kohlrabi (pronounced “cole-robby”).  I’d exchanged passing glances with this charmingly awkward veggie in an asian supermarket last summer but hadn’t picked it up.  Now, having taken up this blog with the mission to promote misunderstood farm produce, I needed to get cozy with kohlrabi.  So I turned to the internet to get its background and tickled myself with this little synopsis I wrote in the form of a dating classified:

It’s kinda pretty close upHi.  My name’s Kohlrabi.  It’s an odd name, I know. German, I think. You can call me Robby for short. I like dappled sunlit afternoons, tall cold watering cans, wearing purple, and digging my toes in dark soil.  I don’t like groundhogs, mud, crabgrass, or the dog days of summer. I’m pretty cool being on my own, but I like hanging out with others, particularly my buddies, Corn and Ginger. We like to get together for a stir fry once in awhile. Most people like me once they get past my thick outer skin and quirky appearance.  I haven’t been all that popular in most circles, except when I went to India. They loved me there!  Well, look me up at the Weavers Way Farm or Coop sometime if you want to get to know me more.

Ha!  Perhaps I’m the only one amused here… In any case, I did learn a great deal about kohlrabi through my online research but didn’t fully appreciate it until I took it into the kitchen.  A very versatile veggie, it’s good raw, steamed, sautéed, stir fried or stewed.  Tasting a bit like broccoli stems with the consistency of a softer turnip, I’m thinking I might even try roasting it next.  For now, I’ve decided to post one of the more complex recipes here to give those of you with a kitchen full of spices a chance to actually use them.  More kohlrabi posts may come later since it’s quickly becoming a staple.  Whatever way you decide to cook it up, perhaps this funny, rather “fugly”, little veggie will be the new love in your life/ kitchen.  

The spicey heart of the dish Mustard seeds Kohlrabi peeled and cubed  

Spicy Kohlrabi with Corn
Adapted from Madhur Jaffreys’ World Vegetarian

1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 fresh green chile pepper, seeds removed, coarsely chopped
1 t. white vinegar
3 T. canola or olive oil
1 t. mustard seeds
1/2 c. finely chopped tomato
3 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 medium kohlrabies, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 t. salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 t. of a mixture of any of the following ground spices you have on hand: nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, cloves and cardamom
Juice of one lemon
3 T. of finely chopped cilantro

Put the ginger, garlic, green chile, vinegar and 4 tablespoons of water in a blender or food processor and blend until you have a liquidy paste.

Put the oil in a large frying pan.  When the oil is heated, put in the mustard seeds.  They will begin popping in the hot oil after just a few seconds.  Add the blended paste (careful!  This addition kicks up a lot of steam and oil spitting).  Stir over high heat for about one minute and add the diced tomato.  Turn the heat to medium and cook until the tomato softens.  Add the kohlrabi cubes and stir to cover in “sauce”.  Add corn, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of water.  Stir and bring back to a simmer. 

Cover and turn down the heat to low.  Cook gently for 10 to 12 minutes until kohlrabi is fork tender.  Add the lemon juice, 1/2 t. of spice mixture*, and chopped cilantro.  Stir and cook gently for another 2 minutes.  Serve with rice or hearty bread. 

(makes 4 generous side dish servings or 2 main dish protions)

*It’s worth noting that the spice on this dish is fairly intense if you’re not terribly fond of the flavors of Indian food.  When making your mixture of spices, called garam masala in Indian cooking, feel free to leave out the headier spices and add more cinnamon or nutmeg to pull out the sweetness of the corn in the dish.  Add a little spice at a time to balance the flavors to your liking. 

Finished dish  

Colorful kohlrabi finale


Entry filed under: Purely Vegetables, Recipes.

My General Approach Something Original

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rachel  |  June 13, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Your posts make me smile 🙂 Don’t know if I’ve ever seen this “fugly” thing before, but prepared it looks DEE-lish! Love the pics and will definitely be keeping my eyes open for some of these new veggies.

  • 2. Jennie  |  June 13, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    Rachel, I think I walk a fine line between informative and just plain cheesy in my posts. Glad to know that for the most part my writing style elicits smiles, not groans. 🙂 Try kohlrabi…I can’t believe how versatile it is! It’s the ugly duckling of the veggie world!

  • 3. Chris  |  June 14, 2007 at 9:28 am

    My mom used to grow kohlrabi and I liked it as a kid, but haven’t seen it since. Hers was a green variety but I’d love to find the purple one you have here, as it’s really quite pretty.

    We always ate them raw, but the stir-fry sounds great. I’ll give it a shot if kohlrabi appears at my local farm.

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  • 5. Anja  |  June 20, 2007 at 3:11 am

    When I came to the US as an exchange student my guest mom asked me if there was any food I particularly disliked. I mentioned kohlrabi (I had to look it up in the dictionary to find out that it’s the same as in German) but she didn’t even know it.
    “What a country!” I thought, but obviously this mean vegetable has begun its triumphant advance.

  • 6. Jennie  |  June 20, 2007 at 6:22 am

    That’s a funny story, Anja. 🙂 I can imagine kohlrabi being one of those vegetables as a kid that I would have disliked. It’s a lot like broccoli. I doubt kohlrabi is set to take over the US yet, but perhaps my little corner of Philadelphia if I have my way. 🙂

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