By Mary Peryea
Kohlrabi – that knobby looking, bulbous green vegetable – is beginning to gain a footing at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market.
I first spotted this vegetable at a summer market up north several years ago. More recently, Paul Arnold of Pleasant Valley Farm gave me a crash course on this vegetable.
Arnold, who is an amazing source of information on all things vegetable, described kohlrabi as a member of the Brassica family. That means it is related to cabbage, broccoli, and kale. It is popular in German and eastern European cuisine, as well as Indian cooking, especially in the mountainous Kashmir region. Arnold said it is the number two vegetable for storage, topped only by celeriac.
Translated from German, kohlrabi means cabbage-turnip and it has a flavor similar to those vegetables, but milder and sweeter than either. It is rich in fiber, as well as Vitamins A and C. There are two main varieties, one a deep purple and the other a vibrant green. Both have a sweet and crisp flesh that is either white or pale green in color.
Arnold plants kohlrabi in July and harvests it in November. He says it is hardy with few insects attacking it. The storage type that he grows lends itself well to sale at winter markets. While it resembles a root vegetable, kohlrabi grows above the ground, with a stem that swells to a turnip-shape and leaves growing off the bulb. The leaves are also edible.
When choosing your kohlrabi, look for a firm spherical bulb with no brown spots or spongy bits. There may be white slashes where the leaves have been removed for storage of the bulb.
Kohlrabi can be eaten raw in salads or slaws, or cooked in a variety of ways. Arnold likes his steamed and added to a white sauce flavored with a little nutmeg. I roasted mine with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and it was delicious. My husband, a confirmed “vege-phobe,” tried it but passed on more than a small spoonful. Maybe next time I’ll try the cream sauce to see if that goes over better.
Visit the Saratoga Farmers’ Market 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at the Lincoln Baths Building in the Saratoga Spa State Park. The market begins its outdoor season May 3 at High Rock Park, when it operates from 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
Roasted kohlrabi, carrots and parsnips
2 kohlrabi, ends and knobs trimmed, and sliced into chunks
1 parsnip, peeled, and sliced into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into chunks
2 Tbsp canola oil
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5-6 Italian parsley sprigs
Preheat oven to 400°.
Place all ingredients in a roasting pan. Add oil and garlic and toss to coat.
Bake in preheated oven for 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown and tender when pierced with a knife.
Turn several times during cooking.
Add salt and pepper and serve garnished with parsley.