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Five Ways to Eat Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi isn't the coolest kid in its class. It has a weird name, and looks even weirder. I admit I've always ignored it in favor of prettier, more popular vegetables. Why befriend it now?Well, because kohlrabi is nutritious: no fat, lots of fiber and vitamin C, even some protein. It's cheap and in...

Kohlrabi isn't the coolest kid in its class. It has a weird name, and looks even weirder. I admit I've always ignored it in favor of prettier, more popular vegetables. Why befriend it now?

Kohlrabi, courtesy Flickr user Lawrence Farmers Market

Well, because kohlrabi is nutritious: no fat, lots of fiber and vitamin C, even some protein. It's cheap and in season locally. And it's a member of the Brassica genus, which includes some of my favorite vegetables, like broccoli, brussels sprouts and kale.

So when a thoughtful coworker left a bundle of it at my desk, I tried to embrace the occasion (though not the kohlrabi itself, which smelled like cabbage) and took it home for dinner.

The greens were still attached and looked healthy, similar to collard greens, so I saved those to saute separately. After snipping off the globe's odd appendages, I peeled away its outer layer with a paring knife—not always essential, apparently, but these were large and fairly thick-skinned—and ate a few slices raw.

The purple variety was spicier, like a radish, while the pale green kind tasted more like broccoli stems. Both would work well in a salad. I sliced the rest up lengthwise to make kohlrabi fries, using this recipe. They had a mild, turnip-like flavor that could have used a stronger partner than just salt—garlic or grated Parmesan, perhaps—but I loved their texture. I'll definitely invite kohlrabi over again.

Five more ways to eat kohlrabi:

1. Frittered. A Hungry Bear's kohlrabi fritters resemble classic potato latkes, while My Conscious Eating's elegant fritters incorporate fresh mint and cottage cheese.

2. Slaw-style. Since kohlrabi has so much in common with cabbage, it makes a great coleslaw. Try the Washington Post's spicy Asian "kohl-slaw" or if you prefer it sweet, A Veggie Venture's kohlrabi & apple slaw with creamy dressing.

3. Soup. It's amazing how versatile kohlrabi becomes in pureed form—you can make a rainbow of soups, from white (creamy  kohlrabi soup) to red (beet and kohlrabi soup) and orange (kohlrabi and root vegetables) or green (kohlrabi soup with parsley and dill).

4. Pocketed. Tuck some kohlrabi inside an empanada with sauteed summer squash and onions, or whip up a glorious vegetable calzone.

5. Curried. Kohlrabi is popular in Indian cuisine, though it goes by many different names (knolkol and navalkol, among others). Chop it up and create a simple curry or a more complex one like coconut-milk and peanut.

Have you had kohlrabi? How do you like it best?
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About Amanda Bensen

Amanda Bensen is a former assistant editor at Smithsonian and is now a senior editor at the Nature Conservancy.

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