It may look like something out of a cartoon alien movie, but this cultivar of cabbage is anything but. Nicknamed the “German turnip”, kohlrabi is extremely popular in India and grows very well in North America, but isn’t terribly well-known… yet.
Despite looking like something that would grow in the deepest, darkest depths, kohlrabi is actually a stem that grows above ground, it’s just been selectively bred in favour of swollen, large stems. Kohlrabi, here we come! Don’t be afraid!
You will usually find kohlrabi in it’s typical light green shade, though markets sometimes carry the bright purple variety reminiscent of purple cabbage. Once you peel off the fibrous skin, the pale flesh basically tastes like mild, crispy broccoli stalks with a hint of turnip and radish. The younger the stem, the milder the taste. When buying kohlrabi, look for firm, unblemished bulbs; you can eat the leaves, but don’t often find them intact, especially in grocery stores. Peak season in Alberta is during the late summer, so head to the farmer’s market now!
Since kohlrabi is a member of the cruciferous veggie family, it’s loaded with glucosinolates, anthocyanins and carotenoids, though purple varieties are higher in these compounds than the green (1). One half-cup serving contains only 19 calories, 250 mg potassium and nearly 3 g of fibre! Good thing for broccoli that kohlrabi wasn’t in our recent Food Fight! showdown!
Not quite sure what to do with kohlrabi? Here are some of our favourite ideas:
- curried salad: add diced raw kohlrabi to cooked lentils and quinoa; toss with a curry vinaigrette and fresh mint
- stir-fry: quickly stir-fry kohlrabi slices with ginger and garlic; toss with sesame oil, sesame seeds and sliced nori
- crudite: peel fibrous outer layer and slice; serve with other raw veggies on a crudite platter. We love it with muhammara!
- ‘rabi slaw: toss matchstick-cut kohlrabi with lemon juice, olive oil, capers and parsley for a light coleslaw
- savoury pancake: add grated kohlrabi (we like the purple) to grated potato; mix with egg and caraway seed. Fry in butter (!) or bake in the oven; top with plain Greek yogurt and chopped chives/dill or homemade apple sauce
Need more inspiration? We like kohlrabi rather plain, simply roasted all you taste is kohlrabi!
- kohlrabi bulbs, cut into 1/4 inch slices
- olive oil
- sea salt
- freshly cracked pepper
- parmesan cheese
- Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees Celsius).
- Toss kohlrabi slices in olive oil to lightly coat; season with salt and pepper. Spread kohlrabi in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake in the preheated oven until evenly browned, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese. Return to the oven to allow the cheese to brown, about 5 more minutes. Serve immediately.
1. Park WT, et al. Metabolic profiling of glucosinolates, anthocyanins, carotenoids, and other secondary metabolites in kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes). J Agric Food Chem 2012; 60(33):8111-6.