Here in Marathon County, we live in what I like to call Kohlrabi Country.
In most of the United States (and in many other parts of Wisconsin), kohlrabi is a completely unfamiliar (and sometimes even confusing) vegetable. I always find it funny at farming conferences when I hear farmers in other parts of the country talk about how they literally don’t even know when to harvest it. They let it get woody and giant or harvest it so tiny you can’t even enjoy it.
That’s not the case in our area. People of all ages in Marathon County love kohlrabi and many grew up eating it from their gardens. Local vegetable farmers grow it well and grow a good amount of it. Here, it is a familiar and beloved vegetable.
We do eight plantings of kohlrabi at our farm. It can be found in our spring, summer and fall shares. Main season summer CSA members can expect to have kohlrabi in their boxes 3-5 times.
What we grow
We grow several types of kohlrabi with a focus on green and white types which have the best texture and sweet flavor. We also grow some purple kohlrabi from time to time, but do not currently grow any storage types.
Store in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator and use within a month of receiving. If greens are included, remove them with a knife, store in a loose plastic bag, and use within 3-5 days.
How to eat kohlrabi
Kohrlabi is one of those vegetables you can do a lot or a little with. Though there are endless ways to prepare it (and we’ll share some of our favorites in a moment), it is also a really great raw snacking vegetable.
You do need to peel it. The skin, though technically edible, is rather tough (like the outer layer on a broccoli stem). Most often we eat kohlrabi by peeling it, slicing it, and eating it raw with a little bit of salt and pepper or French onion dip. It is also outstanding on a vegetable tray with any favorite dip including hummus or classic ranch.
Because of its mild flavor, density and crunch, kohlrabi also is a great substitute or stand-in for a lot of other vegetables. As you’ll see below, we frequently use it as a crunchy element instead of celery.
Here’s a few other ways we enjoy it:
- Added to slaws or the even used as the base for a slaw (see our favorite slaw recipes below)
- Shredded, sliced or cut into matchsticks and added to whatever salad you happen to be making
- Cut into fries and roasted
- Added to your favorite seasonal broccoli salad
- Paired with apples in a slaw or salad
- Boiled like potatoes and mashed or pureed
- Shredded and made into fritters or “pancakes”
- Added to chicken salad instead of celery or to tunafish or chickpea salad in the same way
- Used in place of green papaya in the classic Thai dish som tum
- Coated and fried
- Added to soups (either in chunks like potato or the highlight of smooth soups)
- Quickly pickled in the fridge
Eating kohlrabi greens
Often we will give you kohlrabi with the greens still attached. Kohlrabi greens are edible. You can save them and use them similarly to how you would use kale or collards. Remove the stem between the bulb and the leaves when preparing.
Using kohlrabi instead of cauliflower
Aside from being a really popular crop in our region, we also love kohlrabi because it provides a great alternative to cauliflower in many instances. Cauliflower is super trendy right now, but can be a pretty wasteful crop. Each plant requires several feet of growing space for a single head and there is only one harvest. Cauliflower also gets a lot of cosmetic damamge that means that even good tasting crops are often not saleable. Kohlrabi produces an equally healthy vegetable with far fewer pests and diseases and produces about three times as much bounty as cauliflower for the same area. It can also be used in exactly the same ways.
We think kohlrabi makes a wonderful rice substitute (our CSA members find it equally good or even better than cauliflower rice), use it frequently instead of cauliflower or broccoli in salads and stir fries, and even enjoy roasting it and turning into “steaks” (again instead of cauliflower which tends to fall apart anyways).
Our favorite kohlrabi recipes
Adapted from Compelled to Cook
Yield: 6-8 servings
Time: 30 minutes
2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar (you can use apple cider instead too)
2 cloves garlic minced or 1 stalk green garlic
2 tsp sugar or honey
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups thinly julienned kohlrabi (radishes, turnips, and carrots also work well here)
2 cups shredded greens (can include komatsuna, cabbage, tatsoil, kale, etc.)
¼ cup cilantro leaves chopped and lightly packed
1 small jalapeño seeded, finely chopped, optional
4 green onions/scallions, thinly sliced on an angle
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds (pumpkin seeds, almonds and sunflower seeds all work well)
- In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, rice wine vinegar, garlic, sugar or honey, ginger, sesame oil and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine kohlrabi, shredded greens, cilantro, and jalapeno (if using). Drizzle with dressing, and toss to coat and combine. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onion. Serve immediately or within an hour.
Bratwurst Kohlrabi Vegetable Soup with Pumpernickel Dill Croutons
Recipe by From Asparagus to Zucchini Cookbook
Yield: 6 servings
Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes (plus 1+ hours to allow the flavors settle)
1 tablespoon butter, divided
2 cooked bratwurst, thin-sliced
1 cup chopped onions
2 medium kohlrabi, peeled, thin-sliced, and chopped
1/2 cup thin-sliced celery
2 teaspoon fennel seeds
3- 14 1/2 ounce cans (or 5 cups) beef broth
1 cup thin-sliced potatoes
1/2 cup thin-sliced dill pickles
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
2/3 cup water
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1 1/2 cups cubed pumpernickel bread
- Brown bratwurst in pot with 1/2 tablespoon butter. Remove and reserve meat.
- Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter, onions, kohlrabi, celery, and fennel seeds; saute 5 minutes. Stir in beef broth, potatoes, pickles, dill weed, bratwurst, and water; simmer for 40 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand for at least 1 hour to develop flavor.
- About 30 minutes before you serve the soup, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- To make croutons, combine ingredients; bake 10-15 minutes in 400-degree oven, tossing occasionally. Serve with reheated soup.
Kohlrabi & Beet Salad with Yogurt & Dill
Recipe by Dishing Up the Dirt
Yield: 4-6 servings
Time: 25 minutes
1 medium-sized kohlrabi
2 medium-small beets
3/4 cup whole milk yogurt
3 tablespoons minced dill
3 tablespoon minced parsley
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A few hefty pinches of fine sea salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted on the stove top
- Trim the leaves and stems from the kohlrabi and the beets (reserve for another use). Using a sharp knife or a mandolin slice the beets and kohlrabi into thin rounds. Then stack and slice the rounds into thin matchsticks. Toss together and place the veggies in a bowl.
- Whisk together the yogurt, dill, parsley, garlic, vinegar, honey, oil, salt, and pepper. Taste test and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Pour the dressing into the bowl with the kohlrabi and beets. Mix until well combined. Add the toasted walnuts and sprinkle with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Recipe by NYTimes Cooking
Yield: 4-6 servings
Time: 1 hour
1 pound kohlrabi, preferably with some greens attached
7 to 8 cups well-seasoned chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ cup minced onion
1 ½ cups arborio rice
1 to 2 garlic cloves (to taste), minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup dry white wine, like pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc
¼ to ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (1 to 2 ounces)
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Peel the kohlrabi, making sure to remove the fibrous layer just under the skin, and cut into .5-inch dice. If there are greens attached, wash, stem and blanch them for 1 minute in salted boiling water. Transfer to a bowl of cold water, drain, squeeze out water and chop coarsely. Set aside.
- Put your stock or broth into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat, with a ladle nearby or in the pot. Make sure that it is well seasoned. Turn the heat down to low.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a wide, heavy nonstick skillet or a wide, heavy saucepan. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, and cook gently until it is just tender, about 3 minutes. Do not brown. Add the diced kohlrabi and the garlic and cook, stirring, until the kohlrabi is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the rice and stir until the grains separate and begin to crackle. Add the wine and stir until it has evaporated and been absorbed by the rice. Begin adding the simmering stock, a couple of ladlefuls (about .5 cup) at a time. The stock should just cover the rice, and should be bubbling, not too slowly but not too quickly. Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful or two of the stock and continue to cook in this fashion, adding more stock and stirring when the rice is almost dry. You do not have to stir constantly, but stir often. After 15 minutes, stir in the greens from the kohlrabi. When the rice is just tender all the way through but still chewy, in 20 to 25 minutes, it is done. Taste now, add pepper and adjust salt.
- Add another ladleful of stock to the rice. Stir in the Parmesan and the parsley and remove from the heat. The mixture should be creamy (add more stock if it isn’t). Serve right away in wide soup bowls or on plates, spreading the risotto in a thin layer rather than a mound.