The sunshine and warmth of spring not only lift my mood, but the wheels in my mind start to turn in anticipation of all that is to come in the next several months. In my neck of the woods, June is the month when the farmer’s markets start to open, and I can’t wait to see all the fresh, delicious produce that will be available this year.
It’s difficult to decide which aspect of the farmer’s market is my favorite. Of course, I love getting our food from local sources, but I also enjoy loading the kids up and heading outside to enjoy the morning sun. While we are there, we grab lunch from one of the many vendors, usually a salmon wrap or gyro, though this year my sights are set on trying the wood-fired pizza and crepes. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
One of the unexpected benefits of perusing the market is learning about new and unusual ingredients. It doesn’t happen every visit, but I often find myself faced with something I’ve never seen before. Nothing beats the convenience of having the grower right there, ready to provide education about the item, its preparation, and frequently, a sample.
That’s how kohlrabi came into my life.
I wasn’t expecting it, just going about my business of buying food for the week, when I was offered a sample of this crisp, refreshing vegetable. I found the taste to be similar to cabbage, and its texture reminded me of jicama. Thrilled with the new discovery, I carried some home with me that day, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Purple kohlrabi is pictured here, but there is another variety that is light green in color (only the skin is colored, the flesh is white). Both are high in vitamin C and fiber, and since the leaves are edible, the food waste is minimal. Simply treat the greens the same way you would collard greens or swiss chard; I like to saute them briefly in a tablespoon of olive oil, seasoned generously with salt and pepper. One word of warning about selecting kohlrabi: the smaller the bulbs, the better. A typical bulb is about three inches in diameter, but I have seen them double or triple that size. The smaller ones tend to have a higher moisture content, and as they grow larger, they can become woody, fibrous, and dry. No bueno.
The farmer’s market hasn’t opened yet here, but when I found these beauties at the grocery store recently, I knew they had to be mine. For this slaw, I combine them with fennel and carrots, then toss them in a sweet and spicy honey ginger vinaigrette. This salad is full of flavor and makes for a light and nutritious pairing with Asian cuisine.
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 cups julienned kohlrabi (~2 medium bulbs)
- 2 cups julienned fennel (~1 small bulb)
- 2 cups julienned carrots
- Fennel fronds, for garnish
- In a small bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh orange juice, honey, ginger, and salt until combined. Place the julienned kohlrabi, fennel, and carrots in a large bowl and pour in the honey ginger vinaigrette. Toss the vegetables together with the dressing until it is distributed throughout. Add additional salt or honey according to your taste.
- When serving, garnish with fennel fronds if desired.
Tips and Tidbits
- To prepare the kohlrabi, cut the stems from the bulbs and peel the outer layer of skin before julienning. If using a vegetable peeler, you may need to go over the surface of the kohlrabi more than once as the skin tends to be quite thick.
- For the fennel, the process is similar to the kohlrabi. Cut the stems from the bulb and remove the outermost layer of flesh. Then, slice the bulb into quarters lengthwise, remove the core using a sharp knife, and cut the remaining flesh into thin strips.
- Prepping the vegetables can take a bit of time if you are doing it by hand, but a julienne peeler or mandoline slicer with a julienne option would certainly speed up the process.
- As always, this recipe is a springboard for whatever variations sound good to you. You could use freshly squeezed lemon juice instead of orange juice in the vinaigrette, or you might try adding julienned broccoli stems or apples to the mix.