What is Kohlrabi & How-to Use It

It might look a little (okay, a lot) like a dinosaur egg but Kohlrabi is very normal, nothing to be afraid of, definitely not created in a lab and is not going to escape from it’s enclosure and hunt us. Did I lose you with the Jurassic Park reference? Sorry.

Kohlrabi, pronounced “coal-ROB-ee”, is a cruciferous vegetable. We talk about this family of vegetables often and that’s because they’ve been getting a fair amount of attention lately – for both their positive and possibly negative side-effects. While some say that these nutrient-packed vegetables can do everything from kill off cancer cells to balance hormone levels; others argue that they can disrupt your thyroid and cause digestive problems. I know a friend of mine struggles with her digestion when eating these vegetables, but I seem to do well with them.

A refresher: cruciferous vegetables are vegetables that belong to the Brassicaceae family of plants. These plants get their name from the New Latin word “Cruciferae,” which means cross-bearing, due to the cross-like shape of their flowers. We’ve used them in a few of our recipes and go into what is good about them in those recipes – so I won’t repeat too much here because I know you’re all our Day One’s and that’ll be boring for you.

In a list of “Most Beneficial Cruciferous Veggies”, Kohlrabi features in the top 10. Delicious, super easy to prepare and loaded with healthy nutrients, it’s one of the top vitamin C foods. It hosts more than 100% of your daily vitamin C needs when you consume just one cup. And if you’re anything like me and haven’t taken leave this year, we need all the vitamin C we can get! 

The taste of kohlrabi is similar to the stem of a broccoli. It’s more mellow though, and a little sweeter – less farty, to be frank. Its family members are more well-known: kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli (obviously) and cauliflower. The whole kohlrabi plant is edible except for its root. The kohlrabi we bought, and you are most likely to find, is half bulb, half greens.  Like its relatives, kohlrabi is loaded with phytochemicals that help prevent damage to the cells of our bodies and improve our overall health.

When choosing your kohlrabi, select one which doesn’t have too many cracks on the bulb and whose leaves look good. The best time to buy them is Autumn and through Spring – so keep a look out for them now!

When preparing your bulb, you might want to cut off or peel the woodier skin and the slightly fibrous second-layer. Peel it until you reach the crisp flesh. You can eat it raw, roasted, sautéd, boiled, added to stews, salads, stir-fries, etc!  We’ve made the mistake of not cutting deep enough into the flesh to remove the tougher layers and it’s not a train smash, but it does make for a bit of a chewy, gnawing on a twig-like experience toward the end of your mouthful. We prepared two different dishes with our kohlrabi – both as accompaniments or sides, but they could be made bigger and form a more central part of your meal. Kohlrabi is low in calories, high in fibre, and is packed with beneficial nutrition – so go crazy. We created a raw slaw; and a nutty, sagey, yummy sautéd warm dish.

For the warm dish, we cubed the bulb and discarded the leaves (we used them in our dinner later). The chunkier cubes take a little longer to cook but they hold the flavours of the burnt sage and have more surface area for the pistachios to stick to. That’s our logic at least. The fry-up reminded me a little of a fancier potato situation, but the kohlrabi never gets quite as mushy as a potato so you have ample time to pack on flavour.

It occurred to us that the texture was very similar to both an apple and a firm pear. These subtle, sweet flavours lifted the kohlrabi in the raw slaw; while it’s soft broccoli flavour leant an earthier tone. We cut each into small matchsticks and added a few floral flourishes – because florals for Spring are great, Miranda.

Let us know what experiments you have with your kohlrabi. Do you have a favourite recipe of the two we made?

Simple Kohlrabi Slaw
Author: Give a Fork
Ingredients
  • 1 Apple quartered lengthways and thinly sliced
  • 1 Pear quartered lengthways and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Purple Cabbage shredded
  • 1 Kohlrabi skin removed
  • 1 Lemon juiced
  • 2 cm Knob of Ginger grated
  • 1 tbsp White Sesame Seeds
  • Edible Flowers for topping
Instructions
  1. Once you've chopped and sliced all your fruit and vegetables, start layering them on a large plate for serving.

  2. Start with your shredded red cabbage, then your kohlrabi, apple, and pear.

  3. To make the dressing; add some olive oil, ginger and lemon juice to a blender and blitz until smooth and combined.

  4. Finish your slaw off with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, some edible flowers and a drizzle of your dressing. It's as simple as that.

  5. Enjoy!

Kohlrabi with Sage and Crunchy Pistachios
Author: Give a Fork
Ingredients
  • 2 Medium Kohlrabi's
  • 2 Cloves Garlic finely chopped
  • 15 grams Sage leaves picked and chopped
  • 2 tbsp Coconut Oil cold pressed
  • 60 grams Pistachios shelled and crushed
  • Salt and Pepper
Instructions
  1. Make sure you're using your sharpest knife and cut off the outer layers of the kohlrabi until you only have the flesh remaining (the white part). This can be tough as the skin is quite hard but go slow and you'll get there.

  2. Once you've taken the skin off your kohlrabi, cut into bite-sized pieces, about 2cm cubes.

  3. Place a heavy-based frying pan, that has a lid, over medium heat and heat your coconut oil. Once melted, add your garlic and fry for 1 minute. Your garlic will be nice and fragrant, you can now add your kohlrabi cubes and sage and fry for 3-4 minutes.

  4. You'll notice the edges start to brown, add 2-4 tablespoons of water, and cover. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until your kohlrabi is soft, and you can easily pierce it with a fork. 

  5. Remove the lid and fry for an additional 2 minutes, remove from pan and set aside.

  6. Sprinkle your crushed pistachios over your kohlrabi and serve hot. 

  7. Enjoy!

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