6 ways to tame the kohlrabi monster

For some reason, when my kids were little, they invented a kohlrabi monster, who lived in the (then unfinished) basement of our house. It did have the effect of keeping them out of there for a while….

CSA (community supported agriculture) season is upon us once again, and last week’s box contained two fine specimens of kohlrabi—I guess the kids are beyond the age when I can use it to intimidate them anymore.

I got several questions about how to prepare it from others who received boxes locally and seemed to fear it as much as the kids feared the monster, so I thought I’d step back into my chef whites for this week and share a bit about this vegetable and what to do with it.

what is it?

Kohlrabi is part of the Brassica family, which also includes cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Although it’s also called a German turnip, it grows above ground.It comes in purple and green skins, but the inside is always light green.

The flavor is mild and vaguely reminiscent of broccoli but a bit sweeter—in fact, if you’re a fan of broccoli stems (I prefer those to the tops), you’ll love kohlrabi!

Kohlrabi is high in vitamin B6, vitamin C and other oxidants as well as the mineral potassium. And kohlrabi is chock full of fiber, which is good for gut health and blood sugar control. You can read more about its health benefits on Healthline.

storing kohlrabi

If you get the vegetable from the farmers’ market or in a CSA box, it will likely come with leaves attached—don’t toss these out!

Kohlrabi will keep up to two weeks or more in the vegetable bin of your fridge—best to keep in a plastic bag if you aren’t going to eat it within a day or two. The leaves should be cut away from the bulb and stored in a plastic bag with a dry paper towel inserted.

preparing kohlrabi

The leaves are delicious steamed or sautéed with some olive oil and garlic. Since they shrink a lot, you may want to add them to other greens you have on hand (because, of course, you are eating at least one portion of dark green leafies a day, right?) I love to sauté them, then scramble some eggs in with them for breakfast.

If the bulbs are very young and tender, you needn’t peel them; otherwise, use a vegetable peeler or knife to remove the outer skin. If the bulb is very mature, you may need to cut out a fibrous inner core.

Kohlrabi slices or “sticks” make delicious crudités for dipping or eating plain, or you can…

  1. Grate coarsely or use a mandoline to cut into matchsticks (julienne); toss with a squeeze of lemon, olive oil, minced or creamed garlic, fresh or dried dill, salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Grate coarsely or julienne and mix with similarly-cut apples and some homemade vinaigrette for an updated cole slaw.
  3. Cut into chunks or large dice, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast at 375º–425ºF for 20–30 minutes or until the outside begins to brown and the inside is fork tender.
  4. Grate coarsely and mix with some cabbage to make Fermented Vegetables. (You can find more information, a recipe, and an important disclaimer in this blog post.)
  5. Slice thinly, then cut into strips and use in a stirfry.
  6. Cut into medium dice and use in vegetable soups—puréed versions such as cream of kohlrabi, cream of broccoli, or clear soups such as minestrone or borscht.

make the connection

I’ve heard that many CSAs are thriving during the lockdown, probably due to many people’s hesitation in going to the grocery store. One of the benefits of participating in a CSA is that you will likely get some veggies in your box that you may not be familiar with—time to expand your horizons so you can really eat a rainbow and make 50–75% of your plate veggies!

Let me know in the comments whether you’ve invested in a CSA and what you’ve discovered in your box that felt a bit intimidating.