Kohlrabi now at its crunchy, sweet peak

Season: Stem or greens, raw or steamed, it's a delicious change.

June 30, 1999|By Carol J. G. Ward | Carol J. G. Ward,Knight Ridder/Tribune

A member of the cruciferous family, kohlrabi has a flavor reminiscent of both cabbage and turnips.

Like the turnip, both its purple-tinged, white, bulblike stem and its greens are edible. Kohlrabi is slightly sweet and juicy and can be used raw as part of a crudite tray or steamed and tossed with a light mix of lemon and butter.

Purists point out it is not, strictly speaking, a root but a swollen stem growing just above the ground. The bulb can be pale green or pale purple outside; both varieties are white inside.

Kohlrabi has its roots in northern Europe as far back as the 15th century. A similar vegetable was described in 70 A.D., according to Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix in their book, "Vegetables." It has long been a delicacy in Hungary, Germany, Russia, northern France, Italy, Austria, Israel and China.

* Availability: Fresh kohlrabi is available mid-spring through mid-fall with peak supply in June and July.

* Selection and storage: Kohlrabi is either a pale green or a cranberry color and reaches optimum taste at about tennis-ball size.

Choose small bulbs about the size of an egg (larger ones can woody) that are heavy for their size. If the leaves are still attached, they should look fresh and green.

Avoid bulbs with cracks, blemishes, soft spots on the bulb or yellowing leaf tips.

Store tightly wrapped four to seven days in the refrigerator.

* Preparation: Prepare kohlrabi by first stripping leaves from the bulb. The leaves, which also are edible, have a collard-like flavor.

Very young bulbs don't need to be peeled, but larger bulbs should be.

Kohlrabi is moist and crunchy when raw. When cooked, it has a texture like broccoli.

Serve kohlrabi raw or blanched and chilled with a dip or marinated in vinaigrette. Steam it, hollow it and stuff it or julienne it and add to salads.

Steam or boil it and dress it with butter. Add kohlrabi to soups, stews or stir-fries. Puree it with butter and cream or use in any recipe in place of turnips.

* Nutritional highlights: Kohlrabi is packed with vitamin C and potassium, and it's also low in calories -- about 40 a cup.

Kohlrabi and Apple Salad With Creamy Mustard Dressing

Serves 8

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon coarse-grained mustard

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

1/2 teaspoon sugar

salt and pepper, to taste

2 bunches kohlrabi (about 2 pounds), bulbs peeled and cut into julienne strips, stems discarded, and the leaves reserved for another use

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced

In a bowl, whisk the cream until it holds soft peaks.

Whisk in the lemon juice, mustard, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in the kohlrabi strips and the apple; combine the salad well.

-- From Gourmet magazine

Pub Date: 06/30/99

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