An Alien on your dinner plate?
During the course of our gardening programmes with Erika Pepe we have often mentioned my accident with a seed packet of Kohlrabi. I have promised that I would let you all know what it is and how you can use it so here it comes!! As they are ready now, I have also added some recipes that you might like to try. I haven’t asked our new food presenter Penny at Penny’s recipes what she thinks but perhaps she doesn’t do sinister vegetables! Anyway, Kohlrabi is a glorious vegetable that has so much flexibility that you can use it hot or cold and even the leaves are delicious. Unfortunately, it is one of the vegetables that turns up in your organic vegetable box and often ends up on the compost heap.
What is it? Well, it is a relative of the humble cabbage but despite this, has so much more to offer. It comes in two varieties one purple and the other white/green. Both have an exquisite taste and are quick to prepare. We have chosen to grow them in our raised wooden boxes as they are fast and easy to cultivate and are a terrific standby for salads or cooked dishes. We’ll be adding some plans to make a veggie box of your own in the spring so watch out for that.
You will see from the pictures that Kohlrabi is no looker unless you are into sci-fi movies! It grows from a very thin stem and slowly forms into a ball shape above ground where the main leaves join the stem. We made the mistake of sowing a load of seeds at the same time expecting only a few of them to grow. However, they all came up leaving us with the task of visiting our neighbours and persuading them to take the glut of vegetables and experiment with recipes we had suggested. Fortunately, flatulence aside, the neighbours are still speaking to us and have even asked when the next crop will be ready. That could be because they wish to be on holiday when they are but we like to think that the flavour and versatility of this wonderful vegetable has won them over.
So what can you do with it once plucked from the ground?
Starting with the leaves, you can strip them of their main stalks and shred the leaves to cook like spinach. A little butter or spice after the cooking is finished and you have a terrific tasting extra addition to a roast meal.
The actual bulb can be peeled and either grated over a salad or chipped and boiled, sliced and fried or simply cut into blocks and cooked. I have supplied some recipes at the end of this piece which we have tried and have proved favourites with the family.
Give kohlrabi a go and I am sure you will become hooked. If not, you can always use it to scare off the neighbours at Halloween!
Here are a couple of recipes to try but more are available at: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/kohlrabi/
Kohlrabi Ham Bake Recipe
3 Tbsp butter
4 kohlrabi, peeled and diced
8 ounces thick ham, diced
2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
3 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
Pinch of mace (can substitute ground nutmeg)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large skillet, melt the butter on medium heat. Add the diced kohlrabi and gently cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
2 Beat the egg yolk, and whisk in the heavy cream, flour, mace, salt and pepper until well combined.
3 Place half of the cooked kohlrabi on the bottom of an oven-proof casserole dish. Layer on the diced ham and parsley. Top with the remaining kohlrabi. Pour the sauce ingredients over the kohlrabi and ham.
4 Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Serve immediately.
Kohlrabi - 3, diced along with the greens
Onion - 1 medium, diced
Garlic - 1 clove, minced
Tomatoes - 2 medium, chopped
Green chilies - 2, chopped
Tamarind paste - 1 tbsp
Jaggery - 1 tsp (or to taste)
Red Chili powder - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Microwave chopped kohlrabi for 5 minutes or until tender. (Pressure cooking works fine too)
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan, add the seeds and after they pop, saute onions till translucent.
Add tomatoes and green chilies; cover and cook till tender.
Add boiled kohlrabi along with the greens, red chili powder, tamarind paste, jaggery, salt and 1/2 cup of water. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or till the gravy thickens.
Serve with steamed rice.