Superschmelz! Giant, pale green kolhrabi created quite a sensation in our farm garden. It’s super simple to grow as long as you have enough space: we planted it at our farm instead of our kitchen garden. These beauties grow to giant proportions without getting bitter or woody. Surprisingly, unlike other vegetables, the large size does not detract from either texture or taste. Our large ones weigh about 6 pounds, are a foot long, and ovoid or spherical in shape. Quite the heft in comparison to my size 6 shoe!
Kohlrabi is a member of the brassica family, like cabbage and broccoli. Its name combines “kohl,” the German word for cabbage, and a version of “rapi,” which denotes turnip. “Cabbage turnip” is apt, since its uniform interior resembles a turnip, or even a large radish in texture, and its taste is rather mild, like the core of a head of cabbage or broccoli stems. The latter are terrific parts of their plants so don’t discard them in favor of the more attractive parts.Seeing kohlrabi grow is rather odd. Despite the first impression, it’s not a root, but rather a bulging stem that grows just at ground level, shooting out thin stalks with leaves that cup upward around it. It’s been likened to an alien spaceship or even an octopus. When ours was harvested, the thin stalks were trimmed off and composted, but if the plants had been younger, we would have eaten the leaves as well.
Kohlrabi can be eaten raw, pickled or cooked various ways and is highly versatile. It also stores well in the refrigerator. In fact, it’s almost always the last vegetable that survives from the fall harvest to spring without significant deterioration. Here I braised the kohlrabi in butter (use ghee or olive oil instead if you want) and added spinach since I didn’t have young kohlrabi leaves. Kale or chard would have worked too.
Butter Braised Kohlrabi and Greens
About 2 c of kohlrabi cubes (½-¾ inch)
1-2 tbsp butter
Splash of water
Optional: ¼ c heavy cream
Handful of chopped cooked greens (e.g., young kohlrabi leaves, kale, chard, spinach)
Over medium heat in a pan large enough to hold the kohlrabi in one layer (two layers is okay so long as you stir), melt the butter and lightly sauté the kohlrabi, making sure that all sides are coated. Sprinkle with salt and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to low and cook slowly, until the kohlrabi is tender, about 7 minutes. Add a splash of water if the kohlrabi is sticking to the pan, but be sure to cook off the liquid at the end.
If using cream, reduce it by half in a small pan over low heat and set aside.
If the greens are already cooked, add them at the end but if they are raw, add them to the braising kohlrabi when it’s nearly tender, and stir to combine.
When ready to serve, add the cream if using, stir the mixture well and adjust for salt.