Kohlrabi is a bit of an oddity. It's a strange-looking root sort of vegetable (although it grows above ground) with wavy green tops, and I think many people have never eaten one. I am out to change that. My mother so laments the lack of kohlrabi in North Carolina that it was the one thing she requested when she came to visit a few weeks ago.
Kohlrabi is a member of the cruciferous (cabbage) family; the stem just above the soil swells to a fat little round, with leafy green tops. The tops are edible - they are very cabbage-y - and can be cooked in the manner of any tough green. The bulb itself, as far as I am concerned, should only be eaten raw. Although the Food Lover's Companion claims it is best steamed, I disagree completely. In fact, I have only eaten them cooked on two occasions, and I was disappointed both times. Kohlrabi has an incredibly crisp texture - a friend of mine compared it to a water chestnut - and a flavor which is reminiscent of a radish-scented turnip. Although the flavor is usually quite green, mellow and soothing, occasionally you will find a kohlrabi with a little bite. There are two types of kohlrabi, green and purple, but the purple one is just the same inside.
You should choose small, heavy kohlrabi which are firm and relatively unblemished. The skin is slightly woody and requires a firm hand with a peeler - usually a very sharp paring knife works better, but be careful not to cut yourself. I like kohlrabi simply sliced and sprinkled with salt, although it makes a crunchy addition to salads when cut into matchsticks or ribbons. It is also a great addition to slaw. One of my new favorite ways it to turn it into a refrigerator pickle. This recipe reminds me of the pickled turnips we get sometimes at Silla, which is what I was going for. These are great for snacking while standing at the fridge, and make a nice, cooling munchy at the dinner table. Be brave - try something new!
Quick Kohlrabi Pickles
2-4 small kohlrabi bulbs, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/2" cubes
Good olive oil (optional)
Rice vinegar (not sweetened, available in Asian grocery stores and some well-stocked supermarkets. If you don't have rice vinegar, you could substitute something rather mellow - white wine or sherry vinegar, or even white vinegar with just a pinch of sugar added)
Fresh Black Pepper
Place the kohlrabi chunks in the bowl of a lidded, airtight container. Drizzle with a touch of olive oil, a good splash of vinegar, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Replace the lid and shake well. Taste and adjust seasoning. Place in fridge, shaking occasionally. They are best after they have marinated for a few hours, and will last about a week, becoming more intensely flavored but still largely retaining their lovely texture.
1 cup (135 grams) of kohlrabi contains a mere 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, 19% of your daily potassium intake, 10% of B6, and 139% of your daily vitamin C intake.