Spiced Kohlrabi Fries

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A quick post for a quick dish…. I cooked up the Afghan Ratatouille from my cookbook, Silk Road Vegetarian and instead of pairing it with basmati rice, I wanted a change up. So I opted for kohlrabi fries. They are actually not too fried, and coated in a perfect blend of chili powder, cumin and curry. They are harder than french fries, but so much healthier. When cooked, the flavors intensify as  the outside of the kohlrabi caramelizes, and the flavor sweetens and mellows.

Vegetarians in Paradise (not NY right now #freezing) predicts a hearty comeback for this neglected member of the Brassica oleracea family, (I used to be a Science teacher so had to throw in the nomenclature) more commonly called the cabbage family. Some people have mistakenly labeled kohlrabi a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. This is understandable since both are members of the brassica family, but they are not of the same species.

I can only guess that other more pungently flavored vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus have simply upstaged the kohlrabi whose flavor is mild and delicately sweet, its texture, crisp and moist. Though the flavor of kohlrabi is unassertive, delicate hints of cabbage and broccoli come to the foreground.

For those unfamiliar with this ancient jewel of a vegetable, its appearance somewhat resembles a hot air balloon. Picture the turnip-shaped globe as the passenger section; its multiple stems that sprout from all parts of its globular form resemble the ropes, and the deep green leaves at the top represent the parachute (#goodimagination). Kohlrabi is often mistakenly referred to as a root vegetable, but in fact it grows just above ground, forming a unique, turnip-shaped swelling at the base of the stem. Now that we got a visual of the non root vegetable, without further ado is the recipe…. kohlrabi_s4x3_lg Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

1 1/2 – 2 pounds kohlrabi
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon rice flour or chickpea flour
1/4 teaspoon chili powder or paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
Sea Salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Peel the kohlrabi and cut into thick slices, about 1/3 to 1/2 inch wide.
  2. Heat oil over medium high heat in a heavy skillet. Meanwhile, combine the flour and spices into a large bowl so they are lightly coated.
  3. When the oil is sizzling, carefully add the kohlrabi into the skillet in batches. Cook on one side until it’s browned, about 3 minutes. Then turn the pieces over to brown on the other sides. Once done, drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with salt. Serve hot.

Kohlrabi Salad in Fennel Seed dressing

What is that weird looking celery green vegetable that is the size of an apple- even crispy like an apple, but has stems growing from it? The Kohlrabi. The most coveted part of kohlrabi is the bulb-shaped stem, which is usually peeled, then sliced or cubed before being eaten raw or cooked. It is one of the most widely eaten vegetable in Kashmir, yet not known well in the West at all. In fact, in Asia it’s eaten raw as a finger food, much in the same way that we eat baby carrots as an Hor D’Ouvres. I think the reason why it’s not as well known here in the West is because it’s an acquired taste. Kohlrabi has the taste of a cross between an asparagus and a broccoli stem. Sounds appetizing…. hmmm.

Well, I was with you on that up until recently.
Growing up in my Afghani home, kohlrabi was typically served peeled and cut up as Hor D’ourves and served as an aperitif before the main meal. As a child, I could not appreciate this foreign root vegetable that I could not pronounce.  Belonging to the CSA where there is a weekly surprise of vegetables, sometimes unfavorable, I received kohlrabi. I loved the challenge of creating a dish with a vegetable that I had an aversion to as a child. When I stumbled upon this recipe from Ivy Manning’s Farm to Table Cookbook, I knew that this salad was going to change my view of this turnip. Kohlrabi, carrots and fennel are fused into a subtle salad that is refreshing and clean. The fennel seed and the sesame oil combine to mysterious effect, as you crunch your way through the salad. There’s something about the dressing and the sweet crunchy vegetable batons that combine with the floral heat, creating a fanciful tingle on the tongue.
Serves 4
Ingredients

2 medium red or green kohlrabi bulbs

1 large carrot peeled

1 teaspoon fennel seed or 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 small garlic clove, pressed
1 California green chili (long green pepper) minced
Directions

  1.   Peel the tough outer skin and cut the stems from the kohlrabi. Julienne the kohlrabi with a mandolin or in a food processor fitted with a julienned blade (you will have about 4 cups), and then julienne the carrot.
  2.   If using whole fennel seed, toast the fennel seeds in a small dry sauté pan over medium heat until they begin to brown slightly and smell toasty. Transfer them to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, and grind them into a coarse powder.
  3.  In a small bowl, whisk the ground fennel seed, vinegar, olive oil, sesame oil, salt, pepper, garlic and chili. Pour over the vegetables and toss to coat.

Roasted Kohlrabi (Vegan, Gluten Free)

Truthfully, I probably would not go out of my way to seek out kohlrabi, a German turnip, that looks like a martians’ head with antenna leaves. Although this funny looking root vegetable is eaten raw as an hor douvres, especially within the Persian community it just never appealed to me.

The taste and texture of kohlrabi is similar to a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter, with a higher ratio of flesh to skin. So knowing that, why would I venture to eat something that tastes like a broccoli stem. When was the last time you ate a raw broccoli stem?

Since I found this recipe online… not sure which site, I decided to try it. So why all this huff and puff about kohlrabi…. because my CSA delivered 3 giant ones this past week and I try everything they give me.

After trying this simple recipe, I have to say that I have a change of heart with kohlrabi. Honestly…it really goes to show that almost anything roasted with a dash of olive oil turns out great and this was no exception. SO I encourage you to try this recipe.

The olive oil and garlic enhance the flavor of the kohlrabi which tastes like a cross between a roasted potato and artichoke heart. Roasting gives the outer layer a slight crunch on the outside and oh so smooth on the inside.

INGREDIENTS
3 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat an oven to Roast at 450 degrees F.
2. Cut the kohlrabi into 1/4 cubes. Combine olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss kohlrabi slices in the olive oil mixture to coat. Spread kohlrabi in a single layer on a baking sheet.
3. Roast in the preheated oven until browned, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally in order to brown evenly. Remove from oven and serve immediately.