Cooking from the CSA: Kohlrabi

kohlrabi-003a.jpgSo this week our CSA share contained a vegetable that looked like it was from another planet. (Dennis, thanks for the warning!) Light green and bulbuous, with large leafy fronds reaching up towards the sky (and possibly its original galaxy?), this edible globe was identified as kohlrabi. OK. Big help. Now what on this earth was I supposed to do with it?

Some quick reading provided a basic introduction to this curious vegetable. It’s defined as a form of cabbage from the mustard family, and what I would identify as the bulb is actually the stem of the plant. Not very popular in the United States, kohlrabi is actually more well-known in Europe, where some varieties are used in cattle feed. Now if that’s not a recommendation for an appetizing side dish, I don’t know what is. Moo.

A search for recipes informed me that kohlrabi is actually pretty versatile. It can be eaten raw, steamed, or even stir-fried; I found many recipes recommending its use in slaws. Guess what? It also comes in purple.

Inspired by the positive stir-fry-and-slaw-speak and ready to make dinner, I hunkered down under the sink and wrenched out our mandolin. I peeled the stem of the kohlrabi, and slid it across the julienne blade into thin, even slices. Determined to power through our weekly share without any leaving any vegetables to spoil, I also chopped up some bok choy. Then I minced some garlic, got out the sauté pan, threw on a splash of vegetable oil, and away we went into a swirl of experimentation. When the kohlrabi looked sufficiently browned and the bok choy wilted, I doused everything in fresh lemon juice.

The final result wasn’t otherworldly. The kohlrabi slices, white and dense, had a clean, turnip-like flavor to them, and the bok choy was as bitter as ever, but the overall effect was rather bland. I’ve spiced up the recipe below with more lemon juice, which should help. But if this alien kohlrabi ever wanders into my kitchen again, I’ll be ready. I know what you are now.

Recipe for Kohlrabi and Bok Choy Stir-Fry

  • 1 kohlrabi stem, peeled and sliced into thin, even strips
  • 1 bunch of bok choy, washed and chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, mincedkohlrabi-009a.jpg
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 lemons, halved

Warm a sauté pan or a wok over medium heat, and add the vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped garlic and red pepper flakes. When garlic is browned, add the kohlrabi slices. Stir occassionally. After a few minutes, when the kohlrabi has started to brown, add the bok choy. Season with salt and freshly-ground black pepper. When the bok choy has wilted, remove the pan from heat and transfer vegetables to a bowl. Add the fresh juice of 2 lemons, mix, and serve.


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