Having fled the latest Melbourne lockdown, I am lucky enough to be in a place where seasonality is less of an issue when buying fresh produce. What is readily available only during spring in the southern climes is now ripe for the picking in the subtropical Byron Bay region. Here the sun’s winter warmth is perfect for growing the likes of kohlrabi, a biennial cultivar of wild cabbage.
Kohlrabi, sometimes referred to as a German turnip, is closer to an apple than it is to a turnip. And the techniques for cooking it fall somewhere between the two.
The leaves of kohlrabi are tender and delicate, and therefore perfect for salads, while the bulb can be eaten both raw and roasted. Commonly kohlrabi is treated the same as cabbage or turnip and used in a slaw, while I love to treat the roasted vegetable as a “meat”.
By lightly salting kohlrabi it becomes an excellent snack. It’s sweet and complex and acts as a great crudité with creams or dips. So as much as it works as a standalone vegetable, kohlrabi is also a great vehicle for other flavours.
My previous column touched on the joys of cabbage. And while I’m pushing cruciferous vegetables as hero ingredients, with a varied approach there are no bounds to the applications.
To flip the script and have a vegetable in a meat sauce has been a modus operandi of mine for some time. To let a “meaty” vegetable carry a protein is a burden the humble kohlrabi can handle and, with the addition of complex sugars from prunes, it really becomes the vegetable it needs to be.
All I’m asking is that you give kohlrabi a chance.