As a member of the community-supported agriculture program here in my neighborhood, I look forward to the weekly surprises my box supplies every Wednesday morning. Usually it contains about 4 pounds of various roots, leaves, and fruits — plus the occasional grain or jelly. As the office “chef,” colleagues come to me when there is a funky-looking piece of produce that nobody can quite identify. When a friend came to me holding up a green and purple bulbous vegetable looking like it was a deformed sister of broccoli, I was embarrassed to admit that I had no idea what it was. Root? Tuber? Leafy green? No idea.
Having taken home my own CSA box, I dug around a bit to discover what this bizarre vegetable was. Lo and behold — the kohlrabi. If you can imagine what it might look like if a head of cabbage and a stalk of broccoli had a baby, you’ve got the kohlrabi. Funky-looking indeed, it is part of the cruciferous family and tastes a lot better than it looks.
Crisp like an apple with a taste similar to cabbage, kohlrabi is an early summer vegetable that is extremely versatile. It can be eaten raw in salads and slaws, baked in casseroles, roasted like potatoes, and sautéed with butter and spices. Like most other vegetables in this family (such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower), a little goes a long way, so a single kohlrabi bulb might last you a recipe or two.
Rich in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, the kohlrabi is worth experimenting with. If you aren’t lucky enough to be a member of a local CSA, check out the farmers’ market this week to see if you can find some kohlrabi. It is one funky-looking vegetable that definitely deserves a try.