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Alien vegetables are descending into my kitchen: Kohlrabi

I try to visit one of the three local farmer's markets in my area every Saturday (I'd go to more of them, more often if they weren't all at the same damn time!). Although I love those first spring peas and summer's fresh lettuces and zucchini, the market doesn't really start getting exciting until September and October's harvest season begins. Now the stalls are crammed with fresh things to eat, and the selection is almost overwhelming in its variety.

Given my current attitude of learning anything and everything about food through trial and error, I find myself very susceptible to the temptation of weird and unusual vegetables, and my most recent Qualicum Beach Farmer's Market impulse buy was the bizarrely alien purple Kohlrabi.

I've seen Kohlrabi at markets for years, but had no idea what it was. It looks a little like a red onion that has sprouted, but with the smooth, waxy texture of a cabbage leaf. It is actually a member of the cabbage family, and has a similar flavour. The name is German and means Cabbage (kohl) Turnip (rabi), for both its cabbage-esque taste and turnip-esque shape.

The attractive local farmer who saw the curious gleam in my eye and quickly talked me into buying the kohlrabi said he likes it best roasted with olive oil and sea salt, but after reading a little about how to attack this mystery vegetable, I decided to eat it fresh and make it into a coleslaw with some local carrots. I love the crunchy texture of the kohlrabi, which stays crisp hours after being grated or chopped. The flavour is very similar to cabbage, but less bitter and has a pleasant juiciness when fresh.

I highly recommend abducting one of these aliens from your local farmer's market and bringing it back to your kitchen to experiment with. The resulting 'kohlslaw' from my first experiment was easy, quick and tasty, great crunch with a little tang and goes great with pulled pork or roast chicken.


Kohlrabi Kohlslaw Recipe

~ A Devour and Conquer original recipe

1 medium kohlrabi

2 or 3 large carrots

1 fine diced shallot or 1 tablespoon fine diced red onion

Kohlslaw Dressing:

1/3 cup mayonnaise (low-fat works just as well here)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon grainy dijon mustard

Pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper


Peel the outer skin off the kolhrabi and peel the carrots. Grate both using a box grater or food processer with grater blade, then toss together in a bowl with the diced shallot or red onion.

Whisk dressing ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.
Add the dressing to vegetables and gently toss until combined.
Eat and enjoy!


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