In case you haven’t guessed, we think kohlrabi is totally under rated. And apparently we’re not alone. Feast On chef Nicole Sawatsky of The Yellow Pear agrees.
Growing up, ‘kalarepa’ was a staple in my household. Kalarepa is the Polish word for kohlrabi, a curious farmers’ market oddity that pops up on vendor stands around this time of year. It can be shredded into ‘slaws or quick pickled or boiled and mashed.
When I started learning more about food, I was surprised how hard it was to find. I have memories of my babcia standing in line at the farmers’ market, a bag of them on her arm. She’d pull one out and start peeling it with a pairing knife, her wrinkled hands calloused at the thumbs. Still in line – we were never in a hurry when visiting the market – she’d hand the bright white bulb to me and I’d eat it like an apple. If we were home, she’d have me dip it in salt first.
Kohlrabi, sometimes called stem turnip or cabbage turnip, is a vegetable in the Cruciferae family related to broccoli and brussel sprouts.
Despite its relative obscurity in North America, most of the world embraces kohlrabi’s odd shape.
Unlike other other members of it’s family, the edible part of the kohlrabi is the bulbous growth from which its leaves stem, just above the ground. It varies in shape from nearly round to a flattened globe; and can be green, white or purple. Most varieties taste somewhere between a broccoli stem, a radish and a jicama.
Kohlrabi is cold tolerant, like cabbage. The commercial production of this curious vegetable is limited, so you’re best bet to find it is the farmers market or market gardens.
WHERE TO FIND IT
Definitely check your local farmers market first. Here’s a few farmers and the markets they’re at, that grow kohlrabi.
- Side Road Farm, Grey County
Find them at the Toronto Apple Tree Market on Tuesdays and the Collingwood Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. They’re currently building a farm shop too!
- Fiddlehead Farm, Prince Edward County
Find them at the Bloor Borden Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays, and the Junction Farmers’ Market, Withrow Park Farmers’ Market and Belleville Market on Saturdays.
- Tin Cap Berry Farm, Brockville
Find them at the Brockville Farmers Market on Thursdays and Saturdays. They also have a farm shop on site.
KOHLRABI: A How-To Guide
When raw, kohlrabi is slightly crunchy and mildly spicy, like radishes mixed with turnip. They need to be peeled first, whether they’re being served raw or cooked, as the skin is tough and basically inedible. Use a pairing knife, as the skin can often be too thick for a peeler.
- Julienne it. Matchsticks make for a fun take on a coleslaw, kind of like jicama. Slice it thin on a mandolin for a fun alternative to match sticks.
- Puree it. While kohlrabi can be thrown into any basic chunky soup or stew, it’s texture lends itself particularly well to a puréed soup.
- Roast it. When roasted, the outside of the kohlrabi caramelizes, and the flavor sweetens and mellows.
- Poach it – in butter, of course. Fry it slowly until soft, tossing in butter and herbs. It sweetens up nicely. Toss in the leaves a few minutes before it’s done for a hearty side dish.
- Pickle it. Quick pickled kohlrabi is great on tacos, in sandwiches or as a crunchy side to barbeque.