Have you heard of a vegetable called kohlrabi? Have you ever seen one? Here in Seattle we can harvest them twice a year. They are one of the first crops we receive from our CSA and I was happy to see them included again earlier this month!
I was very surprised to see just how much benefit this funny looking veggie provides us. I will just highlight a few. Kohlrabi is so highly valued in countries and cuisines around the world not only for its diversity in cooking applications, but also because it is full of nutrients and minerals like copper, potassium, manganese, iron, and calcium, as well as vitamins, such as vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, vitamin A, and vitamin K. The Iron was the one I found most riveting. How could this plain white vegetable (there is also a purple version of Kohlrabi) offer iron? It only offers 5% of your daily iron needs but as someone who rarely eats meat, this is fabulous news. It’s biggest nutrient benefit is Vitamin C and provides 102% of your daily need! It’s high in fiber and a serving only comes in at 27 calories!
Kohlrabi tastes somewhat like a broccoli stem, although somewhat more palatable, and is often softer, even taking on the consistency of an apple at times. While the roots/stems are often used in salads in a similar way as carrots or broccoli, the leaves are typically interchanged for kale or spinach. Because the texture is so crisp, it can be eaten raw or cooked, as long as you peel through the thick fibrous outer layer. Since the flavor is so mild they can be added to almost anything without significantly altering the taste.
Now, how do you eat it? Our family has fixed it many ways.
The first thing I ever did with it was add it to potatoes to make mashed potatoes. Everyone loved it and our Kohlrabi consumed for the week! I did a 1:1 substitution but that was because our Kohlrabi was on the small size, the potato and kohlrabi were very close in size. An interesting note though is that kohlrabi can come in VASTLY different sizes!
Other yummy ideas include any of the following to your family’s taste:
- In soups – add in bite sized chunks to be part of the soup or puree and add to thicken the soup.
If it wasn’t in the cards to be able to use all your produce, please don’t toss out the kohlrabi. Us it to start the makings of vegetable broth
Once CSA season begins, fritters become a regular occurrence for us. They can be either a side or main dish. You can grate up almost any veggie combination, mix it with some spices, egg, and flour. Then fry each fritter until they are crisp and – DINNER!!! Oh, wait, what kind of topping to you want to use? I’ve seen toppings be a yogurt sauce, sriracha mayo, a fried egg, sour cream and LOTS more. Our personal favorite is a wee bit of salt and sour cream and let’s EAT! Fritters transform veggies. If there’s a veggie that you’re not singing praises about, try grating it into a fritter and see what you think! For me, fritters have transformed my relationship with zucchini. Our first 2 years at the farm all I ever did with Zucchi was to use them in vegetable soup. But fritters changed all of that for me.
Here is a specific recipe based on the contents of our CSA box:
- 1 medium kohlrabi, peeled and shredded
- 2 small carrots, peeled and shredded
- 1 large zucchini, peeled and shredded
- 1/2 small onion, peeled and shredded
- 2-3 cloves of garlic ground in mini prep
- about 2/3 cup of flour
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons salt
- couple grinds of fresh cracked black pepper
- pasture butter for cooking
A general rule of thumb when making vegetable fritters is the first four ingredients listed above are interchangeable with any vegetable. Kale, cabbage, chard, or potato would be tasty additions or substitutions. Also feel free to add any herbs – what’s going gang busters in your garden or at your farm/CSA if you get to pick up your produce and snip from the herb garden? Are there spices your family are partial to? Add one or two in subsequent fritter batches so you know how they affect the taste.
If I’m ever using a zucchini in a recipe I always peel and chop it first. Zucchini is a very wet vegetable and liquid will create a soggy, unappealing fritter. I typically cut into small ribbons or use my mini prep to chop them. I like them so much that I make at least a double batch and that is a lot of time to spend chopping or making zucchini ribbons. I then put the prepared zucchini into a fine mesh colander and let it sit over a bowl so it has time to drain while I prepare all the other ingredients. Even at the end of that, you will want to blot and wring the zucchini with cheesecloth or paper towels. Don’t forget to wring out any super moist vegetables, as moisture will prevent the fritter from getting nice and crispy.
Now, let’s cook!
In a hot cast iron or heavy bottomed pan, heat up a small amount of butter (I use pasture butter but traditional butter or vegetable oil will yield the same results) over medium heat. When it’s sizzling hot, add a large tablespoon scoop of the mixture into your pan. Pat it down with a spatula. Let it cook until the bottom of golden brown, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is appropriately crispy for your family – 4 minutes is a good rule of thumb.
Roasted is another way to experience kohlrabi. I have sliced them into French fry shapes and then added olive oil, salt and a tinge of pepper. Bake in the oven at 350 F until desired level of crispness.
Our family likes them as roasted chopped circles. Place into a glass bowl, add a bit of olive oil, 2-4 cloves of garlic (that is a substantial amount for this recipe, so you may enjoy a single clove of garlic), salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes with the lid on and anther 15+ minutes with the lid off. Cooking time can vary drastically depending on the thickness of your kohlrabi slices. I cook them at 350 F for the first 15 minutes and at the very end, I turn the oven up to 425.
You can use the leaves in salads in place of spinach. Just wash them thoroughly and toss in your salad.
What is your favorite way to prepare a dish using kohlrabi?