Saturday, June 27, 2015

WTF do I do with this: kohlrabi edition

Friends, I am back! We've had a very busy spring around Chez One Girl - moving apartments is some majorly time-consuming shit. Thankfully, we're all settled into the new Chez O.G. now and really enjoying it. We're in a very pretty spot with lots of nice quiet road for walking the our small canine overlord, plus there's woods and a brook in our back yard so I can go out and get my hippy Earth Mama thing on if I want...assuming I douse myself with plenty of bug spray, anyway. I'm just never going to be crunchy enough to be ok with bugs, and that's all there is to it. Fuck bugs. Not even sorry.


So, one of the super exciting things in my little world this spring has been participating in my first-ever CSA program! We live in rural Vermont and there are lots of farm stands around, but I liked the idea of a CSA in terms of basically being forced to use new and different veggies every week, rather than just going to the farmer's market and buying the same thing week after week. I looked into a few different local CSA options and ended up deciding to go with Root 5 Farm - partially because they offer a pay-by-the-month option (which is way easier for me than coming up with a big wedge of money all in one go), and partially because they're the closest farm to us - they're literally three driveways up from the house I grew up in, and just a couple miles from where we live now. In other words, they're as local as it gets!

We're a month into the CSA now and I'm a total convert. I love, love, love it. We've had everything from purple potatoes to a giant bag of storage carrots to arugula, pea shoots, dill, scallions, lettuces, chard, plus all kinds of other stuff...and it's only June! We get a weekly share until December! By the time the CSA is done, I'm going to be SO fucking spoiled veg-wise. I'm totally going to spend all winter grumbling about the sucky produce at the local grocery store, I know it.

In last week's and this week's share, there was an extra special happy-making prize that made me dance with glee: kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is a totally weird looking cat:

This is not my picture. Credit to

You can't quite see in the picture because it's kind of mounded up with dirt, but there's a stalk down at the bottom that the kohlrabi grows on, and it grows up into these weird purple or green balls with crazy random leaves shooting up from them. It's a brassica, related to broccoli, kale, etc, but it usually tastes much milder. It also has a long shelf-life - once the greens are removed, the bulb will easily keep in your crisper drawer for a couple of weeks. It will actually keep much longer, but the longer it's stored, the more tendency it has to get kind of woody and dried out.

Kohlrabi looks pretty intimidating but seriously,'s well worth your time. It's very versatile - you can do everything from grate it and make it into fritters, to cube it up and roast it, to throw it into curry, to just eat it raw. It's also a great two-fer veggie, because the greens are just as edible as the bulb. It's also packed with vitamin C, B6, and potassium, along with the cancer-preventing indoles that brassicas are known for.

One of my favorite ways to prepare kohlrabi is to grill it. Seeing as how Mom and Pop O.G. were so kind as to give me and Hubs a brand spankin' new grill as a housewarming gift, I thought perhaps I'd make y'all a little photo odyssey of how I prep and grill kohlrabi.

So, here goes!

First things first: you're going to need a good sharp paring knife. Cut off the greens right up where the leaves start. You can throw them away if you want, but you'd be wasting a good thing, believe me. If you want to keep them and deal with them another day, all you have to do is stash them in a ziplock bag with a damp paper towel. They'll easily keep at least a week.

Once you've cut the leaves off, you'll want to cut the stems off as close to the bulb as possible. If you pull down on the stems, you can sometimes partially peel the bulb. Once you've cut the stems off, you'll have something like this:

Sorry for the blurry. Sometimes my phone pictures come out great, sometimes...not so much.  
Peeling the bulb is the most complicated part of dealing with kohlrabi...and it's seriously not that complicated. The bulb has a thin outer skin (the purple or green layer), and then a thin kind of woody layer under that:

See how right under the purple layer there's a striated layer that kind of looks like an onion layer? That needs to go.
You'll be able to see the woody layer under the skin, and you can just pare it right off. For that matter, you CAN just leave it on's not going to do anything terrible to you. It's just not a texture most people really dig. But hey...I don't judge.

Once you've peeled your kohlrabi, you'll have juicy white balls (yes I do that on purpose. I am secretly 12), all ready for cooking. At this point you want to slice them up - I do mine about a quarter inch thick, give or take. I usually lose at least a slice or two to snacking during the slicing process as well:

Maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's ADHD! It''s definitely ADHD...

Now, you may have noticed at the start that I had one big kohlrabi, and one little one. The little one was like golf ball sized, so the slices of that one were going to be too small to try and cook directly on the grill (for me, anyway. I'm not super dexterous with the tongs. Or anything else for that matter, really). For these smaller slices, I decided to cook them in a foil packet on the grill instead. I just drizzled the slices with a little olive oil, added a little kosher salt, and folded the foil over to make a packet. Heavy-duty foil works better for this, but I didn't have any, so I chanced it with regular and no harm befell me OR the kohlrabi.

Here's my packet, along with the oiled and salted slices of the bigger bulb on the grill, plus bonus pork chops, which I flipped after about five minutes over medium heat:

Inch-thick pork chops for the win!

It's hard to see it there, but the foil packet is puffed up with steam from the kohlrabi cooking, which is a good thing. Also, my crappy phone picture doesn't do the browning on the slices justice. They were less black-on-white and more golden-brown-delicious, trust me.

The kohlrabi is done when it's tender. The longer you cook it, the more tender it will get - you can actually cook it to the point where you can mash it, if you so desire...but that wasn't what I was going for this time. I ended up cooking mine for about 8 minutes total, and that was plenty for both the slices in the packet and the ones directly on the grill.

The ones in the packet looked like this when they were done:

While I let my grilled chops rest, I steam-sauteed the rinsed and chopped kohlrabi leaves (along with a handful of salad turnip greens I had hanging around) with some grated garlic. Keep in mind that the bigger the leaves, the tougher the center stem will be and the longer it will take to break down during cooking. If you're planning on a quick cooking method like steaming or sauteeing, you probably want to slice the center stems out beforehand, like you'd do with collards or kale. Also, don't forget to salt your greens. Please, oh please. It makes a world of difference taste-wise.

Here's my finished plate:

I know this post is about kohlrabi, but come on. Look how sexy that pork chop is. Unf.

So, there you go - two ways to grill kohlrabi, and plenty of reasons why you shouldn't be skeered of it even though it kind of looks like some sort of alien kale hybrid thing. Trying new things is fun! Don't be intimidated by vegetables that look like they're going to be a lot of work to prepare - most of the time they're not nearly as much of an ass-ache as you're imagining them to be, and who knows what kind of deliciousness you might be missing just in the name of being lazy!

As always, feel free to comment or email any questions, and you can also find me on Facebook and Instagram (warning: the Instagram is my personal account and also has lots of nerdy selfies, crafting pictures, and pictures of the tiny canine overlord). I'd love to hear from you about your kohlrabi experiences, what your favorite weird-looking veggies are, what types of things you like to grill, what your favorite color to me!

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