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The first time I saw kohlrabi, I was blown away. It was so unlike any other vegetable I’d worked with before! Some of them were light green while others were a vibrant purple. Their odd, leafy offshoots gave them a knobby appearance. Before I could wonder if it was a root vegetable or a weird fruit, I cut into it and fell in love with its crisp texture and unique flavor. I’ll share a few of my favorite kohlrabi recipes, but first, let’s talk about what it is and how to select a fresh one.
What Is Kohlrabi?
These bulbs might look like root vegetables, but they actually grow above ground like cabbages. The name is German (kohl for cabbage, and rube for turnip) and they’re in the brassica family, along with cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Their sweet flavor reminds me of winter cabbage with a hint of broccoli stem, but they finish light and crisp like an apple. You can eat them raw to enjoy their crunchy lightness, or cook them to soften the texture and intensify their sweetness.
Whenever you can, buy kohlrabi with the leaves attached. It’s a quick way to know how fresh the bulbs are, because the leaves wilt within a few days of harvest. If the leaves have already been removed, you’ll have to give the bulb a gentle squeeze; if it’s soft, it’s probably past its prime. When you get home, remove the leaves (but don’t throw them away—add them to your dinner salad or saute them in olive oil with garlic for a tasty treat). You can store extra leaves in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer. The bulbs can be tossed straight into the bin without being wrapped.
How to Cook Kohlrabi
No matter which kohlrabi recipe you choose, you’ll want to start by peeling and discarding the tough, outer layer. Then, slice them into rounds on a mandoline, cut tiny matchstick pieces or dice them into cubes and get ready to enjoy!
Eat It Raw
Raw kohlrabi is one of my favorite summertime treats. It’s so crisp and refreshing on its own, or you can pair it with juicy vegetables to make tasty salads like this Kohlrabi, Cucumber and Tomato Salad. Enjoy the slices alongside your favorite dip as a crudite vegetable, or chop it up into matchstick pieces using a mandoline and use it instead of cabbage in coleslaw recipes.
This is my favorite way to cook this unusual vegetable. The outside edges brown and caramelize, softening the texture while boosting the sweetness. When kohlrabi is fully cooked, it will have the texture and consistency of a potato.
- 4 medium kohlrabi (about 2 pounds), cut into 1-inch cubes
- Olive oil (or one of these oils with a high smoke point)
- Seasonings of your choice
Step 1: Prepare the kohlrabi
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the kohlrabi in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and drizzle with a few teaspoons of olive oil. Season the cubes with a pinch of salt and other spices, if desired.
Test Kitchen tip: To turn this into a sheet pan dinner, top the kohlrabi with a few chicken breasts or pork chops!
Step 2: Roast
Pop the pan into the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Flip the cubes and rotate the pan, putting it back in the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the kohlrabi is tender when pierced with a fork and the edges are lightly browned.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: You can make fritters out of almost any vegetable you find at the farmers market! Simple shred your veggie on a box grater and mix it with egg and a touch of flour. It makes a fantastic appetizer or side dish to shredded pork or chicken.
- 1 pound kohlrabi, shredded (about 3 medium kohlrabi)
- 1 tablespoon fresh herbs (optional)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3/4 cup flour
- Pinch of kosher salt and pepper
- Canola oil (for frying)
- Greek yogurt or sour cream (for serving)
Step 1: Make the batter
Start by placing your shredded kohlrabi in a fine mesh sieve and pressing it to remove any excess water. Place the drained kohlrabi in a medium bowl with the fresh herbs (if using), eggs, flour, salt and pepper. Mix until a soft, sticky batter comes together.
Test Kitchen tip: The more water you remove, the better the fritters will be, so really try to wring them out if you have the time!
Step 2: Pan-fry
Meanwhile, heat 1/2 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, scoop 1/4-cup dollops of batter into the hot oil. If you prefer larger fritters, use a 1/2-cup scoop! Cook the fritters until they’re browned on both sides, flipping halfway through, about 5 minutes on each side.
Step 3: Enjoy
Remove the fritters to a paper-towel-lined plate, or hold them warm on a sheet rack in a 200°F oven. When you’re ready to serve, top each fritter with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream. They’re best served when piping hot, but they’re also tasty when served cold the next day.
If you’re looking for even more ways to use kohlrabi, try this creamed kohlrabi recipe, or use it instead of potatoes next time you make soup!