30 June 2010

Kohlrabi - 'the under-appreciated vegetable'

Here is an article submitted by a very wonderful FIG member (thank you, we hope there will be more!), on the merits of that strange looking vegetable members have been commenting on at the co-op lately - Kohlrabi. It isn't grown on the Central Coast (yet) and we've purchased some Biodynamic bunches from Emery Farms of NSW for you to try. It may be something we can coax the local farmers into growing, at one of our farmers meetings, or perhaps if you try it you may want to grow some yourself. You will find it on the extras tables at FIG.

On the extras table the past few weeks, you may have noticed some of these odd looking purple tubular vegetables and wondered what on earth they are and how you would use them. They are Kohlrabi and they are delicious!

When we first enquired as to what these funky looking purple characters were and David told us they are ‘Kohlrabi’, we then checked the vegetable reference book that conveniently sits at the desk of FIG each week. After the technical specs of where it comes from and what it is, the description read something along the lines of ‘similar to turnip’. Well – that didn’t exactly have me leaping to grab a bunch, I’m sure many would agree, most folk don’t leap for turnip the same way they would pumpkin or potato – or maybe that’s just me. I have also read that kohlrabi is likened to the stem of broccoli, but sweeter. We’re always up for trying something new in our kitchen, so we adopted a bunch of these funky looking kohlrabi characters.
The shortened version of kohlrabi’s technical specs are, that it is a cultivated vegetable from the wild cabbage. Over generations, the cabbage that had swollen, more spherical stems were selectively chosen to cultivate and kohlrabi slowly came to be known. It takes its’ name from the German ‘kohl’ for cabbage and ‘rabi’ being the Swiss German variant of turnip. (There’s that turnip link again, but let me assure you it is nothing like turnip… well in my palette anyway!) Kohlrabi can be eaten raw or cooked and if you google kohlrabi recipes you get a stack of tasty and inspiring suggestions along with background info on kohlrabi. I thought it was quite co-incidental when I had never heard of, or seen this vegetable a few weeks ago, then had a tasty encounter with it, and then on Facebook (yes, that dreaded, but (secretly) dearly loved world of FB!) the other day I saw a friend’s status… “Better start dinner... Tonight kohlrabi curry, Naan, and cucumber w/ yogurt.” When I get that kohlrabi curry recipe, I’ll be sure to share it with you all! I commented to my friend that we had recently discovered Kohlrabi and were amazed at how great it was. Her response was “I do feel that it (kohlrabi) is under appreciated, while being very easy to grow.” 
Kohlrabi comes in greeny/cream and also purple coloured bulbs – but this outer colouring of the bulb is a somewhat superficial characteristic as the bulb is peeled to be used and all kohlrabi are a white fleshy bulb vegetable (yes, similar form to turnip, inside). The greenery on top is also edible, although the bunches we have been getting at the moment, haven’t had the most useable greenery on top of them. But if you by chance get a bunch of kohlrabi with greenery that looks like this then you can use it as you would beetroot greens. Steamed, blanched in stir fry’s or mixed raw into spicy winter garden salads. 
OK, I’ll get to the point – how did we eat them. I turned to the trusty world of the interweb and found this great info and inspiration. We peeled our kohlrabi (2-3 bulbs), diced it, popped it in a baking pan, tossed it in a splash of olive oil (I think it was, but you could also use melted coconut oil or sesame oil perhaps), sprinkled over a whole big handful (about 10 cloves) of finely diced Australian purple garlic then dust with a fine sprinkle of Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt (whatever your preference). Bake in a 180ÂșC pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes (or until cooked through and golden). We served ours with Nourishing Traditions Lamb Shanks (NT p346) and honey, sesame tossed steamed carrots.
As we pottered around whilst dinner cooked, the smell of garlic permeating our home was divine. When we sat down to eat, I was interested to try the kohlrabi, but didn’t hold the highest hopes for this ‘turnip like vegetable’. However, we were all pleasantly surprised as we tried our garlic roasted kohlrabi and the general consensus among our family was “oooo… oh wow… that’s yum”… there was much ‘mmmmm….. m-mmmmm’ going on through-out that meal! It kind of tasted like yummy roasted golden potato cubes, but with a lighter, crispier texture than the mushiness of potato, and with a slight sweetness. The garlic was a perfect accompaniment to the natural flavour of the kohlrabi. It’s always a good feeling as a Mother and a homemaker when you can serve nourishing food that is tasty and enjoyed by all.
If you are inspired to try some, hopefully there will be some more gracing our FIG extra’s table over the coming weeks, be sure to grab a bunch, but please make sure there is one left for us! When my child and I were talking about what we would have for dinner the other evening, I heard a little voice enquire “Do we have any of that Kohlrabi again! That was yum!”
Reference – Kohlrabi file in Wikipedia

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