Saturday, August 11, 2012

Holy Kohlrabi!

I have heard of kohlrabi, seen kohlrabi, could probably likely identify it if needed to, but it never occurred to me to actually try it. So when I was at the Farmer's Market last week, I found myself in a talkative mood. Sometimes you just want to get in and get out and woe betide the one who tries to strike up a conversation with you. You don't get that? Maybe it's me.

I was looking for something unusual to bring home. Kale was stricken from the kitchen due to Guitar Boy, ("I don't like the texture," he wailed at me once,) and if I had to look at another zucchini, I might find myself ramming it down someone's throat. Tomatoes, well, yeah, tomatoes are nice, but tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. So my eyes alighted on a deep purple alien ball: "Kohlrabi, .50" as I was purchasing a pint of Italian plums. (You cannot get between me and my plums, so don't even try.)

"Oh, kohlrabi," I said outloud.

"Yes, kohlrabi, you'd love it, it's awesome." The lady at the stand jumped in.

"How do you eat it?"

"You peel it, then slice it thinly, and just sprinkle some salt on top. It's great, you'll love it." She snatched up a spiky royal-colored one and plopped it in my bag. 

"Oh, like a radish?" My moment of enlightenment.

"Yes! Try it and you'll be coming back for more."

"Er... okay, wow, thanks!" and I walked away.

So why wasn't I overly thrilled for being offered a kohlrabi? I have a mild dislike of radishes (understatement.) Being handed this enormous extraterrestrial vegetable that promised to be an oversized, probably more pungent, radish wasn't making me skip for joy.

I find radishes bland with a peppery aftertaste. There's no excitement there. Then, as they sit out, they become slightly rubbery which tended to happen in my household growing up. My mom harbored an unhealthy love for these red and white balls, serving them with buttered bread and salt. Sometimes, she'd throw them into salads. I ate around them, always. She would just have a bunch of slices lying around and nibble at them throughout the day, blech.

But my philosophy is, well, you can't say you hate something without even trying it. So, literally an entire week later, I finally remembered the kohlrabi in my crisper and brought it out to the counter. I stared at it, took a picture or two because, well, it's pretty and unusual so why not. Then, with a peeler, I attacked one side of it. I got the purple peel off, then continuing to use the peeler, I cut out ultra-thin slices. A sprinkle of salt. I ate a piece. Then, another. Then, another. Then I toasted a slice of bread, spread it with a dab of dijon mustard and a kiss of honey and piled loads and loads of sliced kohlrabi on top. Sprinkle of salt, dash of pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.

Holy Kohlrabi!

In my mind, this kohlrabi has proved itself far and beyond the lowly radish. I offer no sorrow for those pitiful things because... kohlrabi.

It turns out there's so much more you can do with kohlrabi other than thinly slice them and dress them with a dusting of salt. I don't know why you want to try because this is kind of perfection on its own, but like one gets sick of zucchini after the upteenth recipe, it's nice to have a backup. You can pickle them, roast them, shave them into salads, turn it into a ceviche, deep fry them, steam them, and probably throw them into a stew with much too thick gravy (guilty.) I can't picture things like cucumber or radishes being cooked (ew, limp, warm radishes,) but kohlrabi has a promise of releasing luscious sweet sugars to caramelize and send the vegetable to a whole new level of food.

I will get around to trying one of the cooked recipes for kohlrabi, but until then, I'm content with a slice of bread and salt. 

By the way, I did go back for more, just like she said.

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