Challenger School

Crunchy Kohlrabi Is Delightfully Different


“Try it, you’ll like it, “ was an award-winning ad slogan in the 1970s. It definitely fits kohlrabi.

Crisp and crunchy, with a gently snappy taste, this oddly named, odd-looking vegetable is related to broccoli, cabbage and other crucifers. Seeming like an arrival from ET-land, this flattened, pale green or red-purple globe has antennae-like stalks sticking straight up around it. But kohlrabi’s name actually includes the German word for cabbage. A root vegetable also related to turnips, kohlrabi is really a swelling of the stalk just above the root.

To enjoy the flesh, which tastes somewhere between a mild radish, cabbage and jicama, buy kohlrabi that are 3 inches or less across. Larger ones can be fibrous inside. Slice off the top and bottom, and then pare away the smooth tough skin. The flesh inside all kohlrabi is greenish white.  Getting to it, be sure to also cut away the fibrous layer underneath the skin. Raw kohlrabi is delicious. When I catered, long, oval, half-inch thick slices of it were the first vegetable to disappear from a crudité platter.

Cooking kohlrabi, I find it is best when it still has some crunch, as in this creamy chicken stew. A signature dish on my catering menu, it can be made by the quart, up to two days before a party. Its combination of kohlrabi, mushrooms and pear in a mustard-sharp sauce with a touch of sweetness from apple juice, is good accompanied by steamed green beans and rice to soak up the sauce. Everyone will ask about the flavor they cannot identify.  Enjoy telling them it is kohlrabi.

Chicken in Mustard Sauce with Kohlrabi and Pear

2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp. finely chopped shallots
2 Tbsp. brown rice flour
1 cup clear apple juice, divided
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
16 oz. boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium kohlrabi, peeled and cut in 3/4-inch cubes
1 medium Bosc pear, peeled, cored, and cut in 3/4-inch pieces
8 oz. fresh white mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
1/2 cup light sour cream
Freshly ground pepper

In large, deep saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and shallots and cook until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in flour, coating onions. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly so flour does not color and mixture has clumps of coated onion.

Stir in 1/4 cup apple juice, scraping pot with wooden spatula to gather up and dissolve flour. Stir until mixture thickens, 1-2 minutes. Add remaining juice, stirring to make thick sauce.

Mix in mustard and coriander. Add chicken and kohlrabi, cover, and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Add pear and mushrooms, cover, and simmer 10 minutes, until pears are almost tender and kohlrabi is tender-crisp. Off heat, stir in sour cream. Season to taste with pepper.

Serve over brown rice.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 362 calories, 13 g total fat (3 g saturated fat), 31 g carbohydrate, 32 g protein, 6 g dietary fiber, 361 mg sodium


About author

Dana Jacobi

Dana Jacobi

Chef, The American Institute for Cancer Research

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