You might have noticed an odd looking vegetable at the farmers market recently. It is shaped like Sputnik, the spherical Russian satellite with spikes coming out of it. It can be green or purple, large or small. I bet you are a bit confused about how to prepare and eat it. I am here to help.
Kohlrabi is a member of the brassica family. Relatives include broccoli, cauliflower, turnips and kale. Both its bulb and its leaves are edible, it is tasty raw or cooked, and it plays nicely with many other ingredients. Eaten raw, kohlrabi's flavor is similar to a raw broccoli stem, with a crunchy texture like a water chestnut. When cooked, kohlrabi becomes more intense, like a cross between broccoli and turnips, with the texture of a potato.
The hardest part of preparing kohlrabi is getting rid of the tough outer skin. First, remove all the leaves by snapping them off where they attach to the bulb. Next, to stabilize the little guy, slice off about 1/4 inch from the top and bottom of the vegetable and set it flat on the counter. Finally, using a large, sharp knife and working from top to bottom, slice off the skin in strips that follow the contour of the bulb. Now you're good to go.
By the way, regardless of their outside hue, all kohlrabi are pale green inside and there is no difference in flavor.
These recipes show off kohlrabi's versatility. Think of them as your launching pads. If you want to add spices to your roasted kohlrabi, go right ahead. You also may discover that raw kohlrabi is a swell substitute for cabbage in coleslaw. And if you wonder whether kohlrabi can hold its own at the center of a salad, just slice it very thinly, then drizzle it with olive oil, fresh lemon juice and chopped parsley.
And don't toss the leaves! They are delicious when braised or sauteed, then dressed with a bit of olive oil, minced garlic, red pepper flakes and a splash of lemon juice.
ROASTED KOHLRABI WITH PARMESAN
Start to finish: 1 hour 20 minutes (30 minutes active)
4 pounds kohlrabi, peeled, quartered and sliced into small wedges about 3/4 inch thick
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the oven to 400 F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with kitchen parchment or foil.
Arrange half of the kohlrabi on each prepared pan, then drizzle half the oil on each. Toss to coat, then season with salt and pepper. Arrange the kohlrabi in even layers, then roast on the oven's upper third and lower third shelves, switching halfway, until the kohlrabi is golden brown and tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle half the cheese on each layer and bake until melted, about another 5 minutes.
Nutrition information per serving: 190 calories; 80 calories from fat (42 percent of total calories); 9 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 5 mg cholesterol; 270 mg sodium; 24 g carbohydrate; 14 g fiber; 10 g sugar; 9 g protein.
GINGER KOHLRABI QUICK PICKLES
Start to finish: 30 minutes (15 minutes active)
Makes 1 cup
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Six 2-inch-long thin strips fresh ginger
1 cup peeled and thinly sliced kohlrabi
In a small saucepan over medium, combine the vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and ginger. Heat until the sugar is dissolved. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then transfer to a shallow bowl with the sliced kohlrabi. Chill, covered, for at least 1 hour. Serve with grilled fish or shrimp or with sandwiches.
Nutrition information per serving: 20 calories; 0 calories from fat (0 percent of total calories); 0 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 65 mg sodium; 4 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 1 g protein. Sara Moulton, Associated Press
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sara Moulton was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years, and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows. She currently stars in public television's "Sara's Weeknight Meals" and has written three cookbooks, including "Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners."