Recipe: Kohlrabi Bistro Salad
Borrowing flavors from the classic French frisée and poached egg bistro salad, this salad departs from the expected snarl of frilly greens and instead starts with a base of crunchy julienne-cut kohlrabi. I’ve also added in a touch of bittersweet Belgian endive for contrast. True to form, it is topped with a perfectly runny yolk egg and of course a sprinkling of smoky crumbled bacon.
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I came as close as I will ever get to feeling what it is like to be a picky eater. I’ve always been inexplicably able to eat pretty much anything, but during that pregnancy I saw how the other side lives. Foods that I’d normally eat in bountiful amounts suddenly didn’t appeal to me, or even didn’t agree with me. I craved iced animal cookies — it was bizarre. Even after the morning sickness went away, I couldn’t handle cruciferous vegetables. For a girl who loves her vegetables, this was a pretty strange experience.
In an ironic twist of fate, that year was also an epic year for kohlrabi at the farm where we were CSA members. Calling it a bumper crop would be putting it mildly. Every week, the chalkboard would prescribe an unrealistically giant number of poundage of kohlrabi for us all to weigh out for ourselves. This was much to the chagrin of my pregnant and ever-protesting digestive system!
Luckily kohlrabi, when the leaves are removed, will keep forever in the back of the produce bin. If we had a root cellar, that summer would have rendered it full of kohlrabi. I ended up storing as much as I could and gave as much away as friends and family would allow.
When my daughter arrived in the fall, my tastes for veggies thankfully returned to normal. I was able to dive into the kohlrabi with veggie-loving enthusiasm at last. Up until that fall I had only really tried it cooked, but with so much of it, I ended up being quite adventurous with the ways I prepared it. I discovered that I loved it best when I peeled away the tough outer layer and then cut it into thin strips for our salads — no cooking required.
If you’ve never had kohlrabi before, I would liken it to the inside of a broccoli stem. It is very crunchy and crisp, and has a sweet and mildly peppery flavor. Although the green variety seems much more common, I’ve seen both purple and green kohlrabi. (Both are pale green inside.) In the winter months, you’ll often find it with the stems removed. In the late summer, it’s often sold bunched together like beets, with the leaves attached.
In today’s salad I’ve cut away the tough outer layer to feature the kohlrabi raw.
Then I julienne cut it on my mandoline. If you don’t have a mandoline, you can do this by hand or use a spiralizer. If you want to use a box grater, I won’t tell!
I subbed the kohlrabi in for curly endive (or frisée) in a French bistro-style salad. You know the classic that’s topped with crumbled bacon and poached egg? I love the way the runny yolk becomes part of the tarragon- and Dijon-spiked vinaigrette. (Note: If consuming undercooked eggs is a concern, use pasteurized shell eggs or cook eggs all the way through (for about five-and-a-half minutes.)
Kohlrabi Bistro Salad
Splash white vinegar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 cups peeled and julienne-cut kohlrabi
1 head Belgian endive, cut into bias strips
4 strips thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
Bring several inches of water plus a splash of white vinegar to a boil over high heat in a wide sauté pan or deep skillet. Crack eggs one at a time into a small ramekin and then slide into the water. Keep an eye on the boil/simmer of the water. The temperature of the water should drop from the cold eggs. When it comes back up to a simmer, reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. If the water is boiling, reduce heat. Cook eggs 4 minutes for runny yolks. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with a clean towel.
Meanwhile, whisk cider vinegar, shallot, and Dijon in a large salad bowl. Whisk in oil, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Add kohlrabi and endive and toss to coat. Divide salad among four dinner plates. Top with crumbled bacon and the hot poached egg.