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Kohlrabi: A New (Old) Vegetable

Cute hot air balloon veggie

Once, my mother came home from the grocery store and was laughing about a woman who stood hands on hips in front of the produce section and announced, “I wish they’d come up with a new vegetable!”

I entirely sympathize.

The whole plant is edible!

This year I planted a vegetable that I hadn’t grown, and perhaps had never eaten before.  Kohlrabi.  It certainly isn’t new; its been mentioned since Roman times and used on many continents. But it was new to me. The name is German, and it can be found in (East) Indian, Italian, French as well as Asian cuisine.  It is very low in calories, yet very high in fiber, potassium and other vitamins and minerals.

It also is very cool looking.  You can either imagine an alien, or a hot air balloon.  The entire plant is edible, and can be eaten raw.

Peel the outer layer of older bulbs.

When young, the leaves, stems and bulbous base can just be munched on, chopped up in salads, grated for slaw, used like jicama for dips, stir-fried, and even barbecued.  When older the leafy parts should be separated from the tougher stems, like older chard leaves.  The base should then be peeled before use.

The flavor is very mild, and is kind of turnip-radish-broccoli tasting.  There are two types, a purple and a light green.  I grew the light green, but have read that the purple variety is sweeter.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, but I may try that next year.

I braised and steamed the leaves, ate some of the bulb raw and stir-fried the rest.  It was tasty.  It was cute. It was fun to say.  It was NEW.

Stir-fried kohlrabi with sesame oil and seeds, served with brown rice noodles and fresh orange.

And, if you want to send a grocery store checker into confusion and hold up the line, buy some kohlrabi.  They’ll have no idea.

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