Recipe: What To Do With Kohlrabi? Purée It! (2024)

And Eating by Silly Food Rules

Recipe: What To Do With Kohlrabi? Purée It! (2)
These resprouted purple kohlrabi plants are very, very safe.

Life is complicated. Something as basic as eating shouldn't be, but leave it to us humans to let this vital, natural act all but take over our lives. Even though most of us now have the luxury of hunting and gathering our food from the farmers' market and garden and grocery store rather than out in the wilds, we nevertheless think about it constantly.

But instead of worrying whether we'll be able to take down a bison to feed us through the winter, our days are now dominated by smaller, more specific—and yet still often overwhelming

details, such as figuring out how to produce meals that will simultaneously support our health, our budget, and the never ending desire to lose ten pounds.

But it's the often ridiculous rules and rationalizations we've come up with that really send us over the edge of edible obsession. You know, those little things that make perfect sense only because you've conveniently convinced yourself that they do.

For instance, some people believe that calories don't actually count if you've snitched the food from someone else's plate. Or that a healthy breakfast can consist of an enormous

hunk of chocolate cake as long as it's accompanied by a large glass of milk (this would be me).

Nitrate-fearing health nuts will gleefully wolf down a mile-long hot dog if they're sitting in a sports stadium, and people who would never allow a bag of refined sugar into their homes are routinely seen walking around carnivals with their faces buried in clouds of cotton candy.

Some people are more practical, only consuming certain foods if they're in season, or setting spending limits and refusing to pay more than a dollar for a can of tuna or 89 cents for a bunch of parsley.

Then there's the inordinate number of us who know that when it comes to eating, anything goes if you're on vacation.

Recipe: What To Do With Kohlrabi? Purée It! (3)
The beauty of vegetables is highly underrated.

Ever since I moved to the country and started planting an enormous

kitchen garden, many of my self-imposed food laws have to do with buying fruits and vegetables. If I don'tor can'tgrow something, then I have no problem paying for it.

But plunking down cash for so-so stuff that I have in great abundance at certain times of the year? Can't do it.

Swiss chard from the supermarket? Certainly not. Kale? I can't. Tomatoes? No way. It's the same with basil, turnips, arugula, cucumbers, green beans, lettuce, sweet peppers, pak choy, radishes, strawberries, and all sorts of other stuff.

In a moment of weakness last summer I forked over two dollars for a miniscule packet of fresh dill—which grows wild in my garden but never when the cucumbers are ready—and the stress almost killed me.

I do, however, make a few exceptions for year round essentials that I grow but not well (or not enough of), such as

onions, broccoli, and parsley. And if I could find a decent source for it, I would probably buy kohlrabi every single week.

Kohlrabi, from the German words kohl (cabbage) and rabi (turnip), is not actually a cabbage or a turnip. Cultivated in Europe since at least the mid 1500's, this cold loving member of the brassica (cabbage) family is low in calories, high in fiber, and a good source of several vitamins and minerals. Although kohlrabi has been grown the U.S. since at least the early 1800's, it still has yet to become very popular.

Sweet and mildly flavored, kohlrabi can be braised, boiled, stuffed, sliced, scalloped, steamed, julienned, roasted, and sautéed. You can grate it into slaw, toss it into salads, slip it into soups and stews, snack on it raw with dip, and stir-fry it. You can even wrap it in foil and grill it.

I've seen recipes where kohlrabi was covered in cream, sautéed with anchovies, stuffed into empanadas, fried into cakes, served with hollandaise sauce, and turned into a cinnamon brunch bake. This vegetable is versatile.

(2011 Update: Farmgirl Fare readers offer up even more ideas for what to do with kohlrabi in the comments section of this post.)

Unfortunately all of these cooks are wasting their time

and their kohlrabi. For in my opinion, the only thing you should ever be doing with kohlrabi is turning it into purée. Trust me.

So what are your silly food rules? Come on, I won't tell anyone.

Recipe: What To Do With Kohlrabi? Purée It! (4)

Purple kohlrabi in my kitchen garden (read about growing kohlrabi here)

Kohlrabi Purée Recipe
Serves up to six
Adapted slightly from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins (authors of The Silver Palate Cookbook)

**Click here to print this recipe**

The Silver Palate ladies, who are self-described kohlrabi fans, say that "kohlrabi, once tasted, can become an obsession, for it seems to exude freshness," and liken it to an almost peppery version of broccoli. They do include two other kohlrabi recipes besides this purée in

The New Basics Cookbook (which is one of my all time favorite cookbooks), but I figure that's only because their editor told them they had to.

Kohlrabi is usually available from May to December and comes in both white- (which is actually green) and purple-skinned varieties. The insides of both are white. Since my motto is, Why go with green if you can choose purple instead? I always grow the purple variety in my

organic kitchen garden.

Look for kohlrabi bulbs that are about 2½ inches in diameter. Any larger and the skin may toughen and need to be peeled, and the insides can be woody. Freshly picked kohlrabi will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.

You'll need both the bulb and the leaves for this recipe, which is where my problem comes in. By the time the bulbs have formed on the plants, insects have usually ravaged the leaves. They'll grow back if given the chance, as you can see in the top photo of these old plants I discovered buried under weeds last fall, but by then the bulbs will no longer be edible. Fortunately the young leaves are wonderful in salads.

This spring all the leaves remained untouched, but most of the plants never formed bulbs. Apparently this cool season vegetable doesn't care for our drastic late winter and early spring temperature fluctuations. But I did manage to harvest kohlrabi enough to make one batch of this glorious purée.

You can read more about my experiences growing kohlrabi (with other gardeners chiming in in the comments section) here.

If you don't have any kohlrabi leaves, kale would probably make a good substitute.

Kohlrabi plants are beautiful. Kohlrabi purée is not, which is why I haven't included a photo. This is actually a good thing, because if you believe that guests should only be served food that is pleasing to look at, you can save this recipe for a time when you only need to feed yourself.

Rosso and Lukins suggest serving kohlrabi purée alongside your favorite meatloaf instead of mashed potatoes, but I turned it into a main course and managed to devour an embarrassingly large amount while standing in the kitchen.

I've adapted the recipe slightly, mostly because I'm not the type of person who ever has 3 Tablespoons of chicken stock hanging around in the fridge. The mushrooms add a nice flavor, but I've left them out before, and the purée still tasted delicious.

4 kohlrabi bulbs with leaves
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion
, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces cultivated mushrooms (I used Baby Bellas), quartered
3 Tablespoons cream (or milk, chicken stock, olive oil, or water)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Trim the kohlrabi bulbs, peeling them if the skins seem tough. Rinse the leaves (discarding any that are yellow) pat them dry, and coarsely chop. Set aside. But the bulbs into 1-inch chunks.

2. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil, and add the kohlrabi chunks. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, another 1 to 2 minutes. Don't let the garlic brown.

4. Add the mushrooms and the reserved kohlrabi leaves to the skillet. Cover, and cook 5 minutes. Then uncover, and cook, stirring, until all the liquid has evaporated, 3 minutes. Set the skillet aside.

5. Drain the kohlrabi chunks and place them in the bowl of a food processor (I love my

12-cup KitchenAid processor). Add the mushroom mixture and the cream (or whatever substitute you're using). Purée until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

6. Transfer the purée to a saucepan and reheat over low heat, stirring, 2 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 6 portions. (I love that they don't actually say it will 'serve' six people, but that it does indeed make six portions.)

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

©, the fresh veggie foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories & photos of her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres

—and we're nuts about kohlrabi.

Recipe: What To Do With Kohlrabi? Purée It! (2024)
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