The joy of discovering a new delicious vegetable doesn't usually happen in the last weeks of winter. But last week, a reader told us that if we liked radishes, we should try kohlrabi, the strangely shaped member of the cabbage family. So we set off to investigate, and loved what we found out.
Eaten raw, kohlrabi does indeed have a faint bite like a radish. To us, it tastes like the happy marriage of a radish and a potato, with a hint of artichoke. But you may find its flavor more similar to a turnip or cabbage. In fact, in German, "kohl" means cabbage and "rabi" means turnip.
Aside from the flavor, some of the best reasons for eating kohlrabi are its nutritional benefits. Low in carbs and calories, but high in dietary fiber and antioxidants, this veg is a dieter's dream.
When shopping for kohlrabi, look for bulbs 3" in diameter or less with healthy green leaves. Smaller bulbs won't need to be peeled, and can be eaten out of hand like an apple. Any larger than 3" and you'll likely have flavorless bulbs with unappetizing woody sections.
We tried our kohlrabi plain and raw, which we loved. Then we sliced it thinly, and mixed it with granny smith apples, lemon juice, ginger, and oil for a quick salad. The kohlrabi's flavor blended with the other ingredients, and its crisp, starchy texture was a nice complement to the apples. We've heard that you can eat the young leaves like salad, or cook them as you would turnip greens.
Now that we've discovered this long-lost friend, we're looking forward to trying recipes that call for sautéing kohlrabi with watercress and pureeing it with mushrooms and cream.
(Photos by Nina Callaway)