We Met Online
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:
Hi. 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.
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.