by Alison Charbonneau
I love kohlrabi. It is tender when fresh and has a satisfying crunch, I can eat two or three at a time. I grew up enjoying this relatively unknown vegetable; my grandmother grew them in her large garden when I was a child. Every summer we would go over to her house after tennis lessons and get our ration of fresh vegetables. As time passed her garden began to get smaller. First to go were the pumpkins, then it was the raspberries until eventually there remained only a few rows of flowers. By the time I found out that the kohlrabi was next on the list for removal, I was recently married with a baby on the way and luckily for me I married a farmer. So I asked for a favour and a small amount of kohlrabi was planted at Hi-Berry Farm the next year.
So what exactly is kohlrabi? I get that question a lot. Kohlrabi is a slightly sweet, slightly peppery vegetable. Many think it looks like a turnip, maybe so, but it is actually related to cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower and subsequently has more of a cabbage-y, broccolish, cauliflower flavour and texture. The smaller younger bulbs (about apple sized) are a bit sweeter and juicier and delightful eaten raw; more mature bulbs have a soft peppery bite like a mild radish almost and are wonderful steamed or roasted.
Fresh kohlrabi can be stored loose in the fridge for one to two weeks
I eat a lot of kohlrabi when it’s in season but I am no chef and tend to stick to the basic raw, steamed or roasted methods. So when I reached out to Little Black Dog in Southampton back in March, their response “We would be happy to work with kohlrabi” made me very happy and I was excited to see what Chefs Kendra Smith and Stacey Hull, owners and operators of this boutique catering company could do.
Kendra has eaten kohlrabi as a kid “raw with a bit of salt” but Stacey had not previously had it or really worked with it before. “It is a highly underestimated vegetable” Stacey said “and extremely versatile” added Kendra “the mild flavour can be manipulated in various ways.”
When Luke and I went over to see Kendra and Stacey a few days ago and take a peek at what they came up with we were delighted! The first dish was a tasty kohlrabi coleslaw with a ginger sesame vinaigrette (recipe below). They explained how kohlrabi’s relation and similarities to cabbage pairs well with Asian inspired flavours and its crisp consistency is great for a slaw as it keeps a good crunch. Then we got to try these flavourful roasted kohlrabies with truffle and parmesan (recipe below). These dishes were both remarkably delicious and amazingly quick and easy to make (and enjoy).
I am not surprised that these two were able to create delectable dishes out of the kohlrabi as these boutique caterers are always coming up with quick solutions to life’s pot-luck problems and satisfying the dinner table with their take-away creative plates.
Although kohlrabi may seem a bit peculiar and may not be the most popular vegetable at the market, for me it carries warm childhood memories and brings me back to my grandmother’s garden. Maybe that's why I love it. The fact that my kids are starting to ask their dad to “bring home a bag full of kohlrabi” makes me love it even more.
Next time you see some kohlrabi toss one into your basket and try it yourself, maybe you will love it too.
Garlic Roasted Kohlrabi with Truffle and Parmesan
- 4 kohlrabi
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp olive oil (use a herb infused oil to boost your flavor)
- 2 tsp truffle oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- chopped parsley or chives
- Preheat oven to 425f
- Peel and cut kohlrabi into wedges, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic until evenly coated.
- Spread evenly on a parchment covered baking sheet, bake for 15 – 20 min until brown stirring 1/2 way to ensure even cooking.
- Remove from oven, stir in Parmesan cheese bake for another 5 min to crisp cheese.
- Remove from oven drizzle with truffle oil and sprinkle with the chopped herbs, serve immediately. Excellent side dish with any meal, best served with grilled steak or pork !
Kohlrabi Coleslaw with a Ginger Sesame Vinaigrette
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup SOOC honey ginger balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoon honey or brown sugar
- 2 clove minced garlic
- 2 teaspoon SOOC toasted sesame oil
- 4 Whole Kohlrabi peeled
- 4 Radishes
- 3 Green Onions (green part only)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 carrot peeled
- With a knife peel off outer skin of kohlrabi, using a mandolin slice the kohlrabi, carrot and radish thinly (Watch your fingers !!)
- With a knife julienne the kohlrabi, carrot, green onion and radish into long thin pieces. Take the thin long slices of green onion and place in ice cold water until they curl, then drain and mix with the remaining ingredients in a bowl.
- In a small blender or bullet mix together all the ingredients for the vinaigrette, blend until smooth and emulsified.
- Pour over the julienne vegetables, toss until well coated, serve on its own or a perfect side with grilled shrimp or chicken.
- Find the olive oil and balsamic vinegar in Southampton at the Southampton Olive Oil Company (SOOC) with over 50 Flavors to choose from !
Photography by Jill Schildroth Photography
Recipes by Little Black Dog