Monday, September 6, 2010

What the Hell Do I Do With All This Kohlrabi??

A perplexing question indeed! Those readers who have taken part in a CSA (C0mmunity Supported Agriculture - where a farm sends you a portion of its produce every week) will either be familiar with this question, or a variation thereon (What the hell do with all this/these kale/turnips/dandelion greens/radishes???). Well, as in my new house we have one person working for a farm that gives us a CSA share every week, for my first week and a half we found ourselves with probably six huge kohlrabi on our hands, and it was largely up to me to figure out what the hell to do with them.

This is not so much of a straight up recipe post, because this question yielded multiple answers!

The first approach we took was to cut it up with some squash and bake it in the oven with butter, salt and pepper. This worked pretty well - the kohlrabi was still decidedly crunchier than the squash, but it all worked out and had a lovely dinner of it alongside some Lentil Shepherd's Pie.

Some time after that, I got my cookbooks in the mail and was able to look up kohlrabi in the Joy of Cooking, and discovered that, among other things, it had "an affinity for" tomatoes and cream. Thus, I tried making a creamy tomato sauce to go over pasta, in which kohlrabi was the main vegetable. This ended up working decently well, although the kohlrabi was still a bit too crunchy in this instance (it also featured alongside squash again). The basic process, however, was to start the kohlrabi sauteing over medium heat for several minutes, then add the onion, then the squash, and then the other ingredients, so that the kohlrabi got enough time to cook.

After this I got a bit more daring. We decided that we wanted to make chili for dinner, and what went in to give it some extra umph? Indeed! It was perhaps one of the world's first batches of kohlrabi chili! I followed a similar process here to the one outlined above: you have to begin by leaving the kohlrabi to saute over medium heat with a good dollop of oil or butter before adding anything else. The chili actually turned out really well! I would recommend this to anyone with a random kohlrabi or two on their hands, because it gets incorporated really well and just adds more foodiness to the chili. One thing to note, however: in this recipe we experimented with leaving the purple skins on, which didn't turn out badly per se, but we were spitting out skins the whole evening, so I recommend trimming them off.

The last use we came up with (after making another batch of pasta with kohlrabi in it) was actually to saute it in a skillet with other produce from the next CSA share, which might have (aside from the chili) been my favorite. Naming this creation "harvest jamboree", we began much like we did before, sauteing the kohlrabi alone. I then added potatoes, and let them sizzle together until both veggies got nice and golden brown on the outside. Then came the squash (zucchini, summer squash and patty pan), and once that was cooked I added several handfuls of frozen corn, some chickpeas, some garlic and four minced chilis (two jalapenos and two unidentified sweet peppers). We served up the final dish with sauteed greens (rainbow chard) and some grain left in our cabinets, labeled erroneously as "qinoa" but was actually irish oatmeal, but that still turned out to be yummy.

Well, that just about did it for the kohlrabi - the roots at least! There was still one use to list: broth! Since these kohlrabi all came with leaves still attached, I collected them in a bag and refrigerated them with all sorts of other vegetable matter and made a big batch of veggie broth with them. I can safely say that we used up that kohlrabi well and truly!

Well, while I would hope that in your cooking adventures you didn't find yourself with six kohlrabi to use, I certainly enjoyed this culinary challenge, and I look forward to the next one that cooking from a CSA presents me with!

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