Kohlrabi is a crispy, sweet tasting, delicate flavored member of the Brassica family of vegetables, grown for its swollen, turnip-shaped portion of the stem which rests on the ground. It’s a distinctive looking vegetable, with a ball-like shape, pale green and purple-tinged, marked by points where the leaf-stems attached. The flesh of the bulb is juicy and crisp with a beguiling sweetness similar to that of an apple, with a hint of piquancy associated with radishes and baby turnips.
Wash kohlrabi just before using. Small kohlrabi bulbs which are young and tender generally do not require peeling. Medium to larger sizes should be peeled to remove the protective outer skin. The bulb can be sliced, cut into quarters, cubes or julienne strips and steamed until crisp-tender. Or sauté kohlrabi in butter or olive oil, or boil and mash like potatoes. The whole peeled kohlrabi can be added to braised dishes and stews. The crisp flesh can be served raw in salads, as a relish, or as a crunchy accompaniment to dips. The kohlrabi has delicious leaves that are tender and excellent in salads or stir-fried.
With only 36 calories, one cup of raw kohlrabi has nearly 5 grams of fiber and is an excellent source of Vitamin C and a good source of Potassium. Kohlrabi contains important phytochemicals such as indoles, sulforaphane and isothiocynates. Indoles are believed to be potentially significant anti-cancer compounds and are found in other cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. These plant compounds are not destroyed in cooking, and the bioactivity of indoles may actually be increased by cooking.
Kohlrabi and Tomato Salad
4 medium kohlrabi
2 large tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped savory (if savory is unavailable, thyme can be substituted)
Coarse salt and pepper to taste
Trim and peel the kohlrabi and slice thinly (1/8 inch slices). Toss with the olive oil and lime or lemon juice. Chop tomatoes and blend with the savory. Add to kohlrabi along with salt and pepper.