What the heck is Kohlrabi?

I had heard of kohlrabi, but only in the abstract way that I maybe read about it somewhere. I just never had actually seen it, and really never gave it any thought. I absolutely love all green veggies and am always happy to try a new veggie. The Kohlrabi is a weird looking purple or light green bulb on the end of leafy green stems. I first began to look for kohlrabi after my wonderful Belgian roommate, Anne, returned from visiting her sister, Miriam in Brussels. Miriam is an avid cook, as am I and we were always exchanging recipes, courtesy of my in house Dutch translator. Anne returned from this trip with a gift from Miriam, a book on Dutch cooking. I eagerly read through the book and a recipe for warm kohlrabi fennel salad caught my eye. I asked Anne if she had ever had it and how it tasted. She said they ate it all the time in Europe and it was a cabbage. I was confused. How could the weird looking bulb be a cabbage? I began to be on the look out for it. Kohl is the German word for cabbage (think coleslaw) and the kohlrabi is a German turnip. Sort of like the rutabaga is a Swedish turnip. Despite my curiosity and desire to try this veggie, I just never saw any in the produce sections of any stores I shopped in. I had sort of forgotten and sadly, Anne moved to Minneapolis. During this time, I began to work at the Peachtree City Farmer’s Market on weekends, and the produce there was fabulous, varied, and seasonal. If you read my posts on collards, you know I buy mine from Rick Minter. One Saturday as we were setting up I glanced over and there on Mr. Minter’s table were mounds of kohlrabi. I ran over all excited and asked Mr. Minter if those were in fact the elusive kohlrabi. Yes, they were and he ¬†asked me how I ate them. I told him I didn’t know, I never had. We laughed and he said he hadn’t either, he had just grown them because he was curious. I selected a bunch and when I got home began trolling the internet for information. I would have made the warm fennel kohlrabi only I didn’t have any fennel. I was determined to eat them that very day. Many websites espoused the virtues of eating them raw. I was a little skeptical. After all, I love turnips but they can be a tad bitter raw and this was described as a German turnip. Finally I decided I would just do it..I pulled out my sharp chef’s knife expecting them to be hard like a rutabaga. But they were not difficult to peel at all. In fact, I switched to a paring knife and peeled the purple off revealing a creamy white interior. Then, I sliced them into sticks. I stood there looking, and picked one up and took a bite. Wow…it wasn’t at all bitter. It was very mild and had a nice texture. It toasted like a cabbage heart, only softer and milder. I then misted them lightly with EVOO and ground course Himalayan pink salt and man oh man. What a yummy veggie snack. perfectly sized to slice and eat. I saved the leaves for juicing. The mildness really surprised me and was perfectly offset by the Himalayan salt. All season, I would buy fresh purple kohlrabi from Mr. Mintner and slice and eat raw. But don’t just take my opinion to heart …for those of you that follow my blog you may remember that I often refer to my non veggie eating husband. My husband literally eats only corn and white potatoes. He does enjoy all types of fruit, and most salads. He prefers his foods plain, processed, and in his words, “Laura, quit buying me organic milk and sprouted bread, just go to Publix and get me white bread and milk that is full of hormones.” I am not kidding. So, for all the naysayers as to why you would eat healthy if only your spouse of kids would PLEASE…no excuses. Anyway, I digress. I schlepped some kohlrabi down to Boca recently. This is necessary, because compared to Atlanta, the South Florida, and especially Boca Raton vegetable offerings are very lame. I sliced up bulb of kohlrabi, salted it with sea salt and left the bowl on the counter in the kitchen while I was doing something. My hubby strolled through, eyed the bowl and asked what was in it. Not wanting to turn him off, I was vague and and said it is some type of radish like veggie for a salad. He likes radish so he popped one in his mouth. He was impressed. He then asked if I had more as he wanted to carry the bowl to the TV room and snack. I nearly fainted. I was still vague not wanting to give myself away. While he munched, I pulled up a picture and article describing kohlrabi. I wandered into his office and left it pulled up on his desktop. Later that night as we were relaxing, he said, there is no way what I ate tonight was related to a cabbage. So there you have it. What other proof is needed that this homely little bulb is tender, crunchy, delicious and definitely worth trying!!

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